Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some inspiring Christian resources

I'm going to recommend a couple of video teachings I've learned about recently, both of them great boosts to Christian understanding and worship. My brother lent me both of these, and I'm very thankful.

I've only seen the first half of The Truth Project, but I have to say I can tell where it's going because where it's been is already good enough to recommend the whole thing. This is a twelve-part series of classroom style lectures that aims to lay out a systematic and comprehensive Christian Worldview. It succeeds.

C. S. Lewis said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Truth Project is an attempt to outline the Everything-Else that the sun of Christianity reveals. I think that Christians who have been struggling along with a half-worldly view of life without realizing it will be invigorated and inspired by this series of teachings.

The other recommended teaching is The Bethlehem Star which is an engaging introduction to astronomical signs related to the birth and death of Christ, the star over Bethlehem announcing His birth of course being the main focus, but other heavenly phenomena as well.

The blurb:
The Star demonstration is a multimedia presentation by lawyer and law professor Rick Larson. In a presentation seen by many tens of thousands live on stage and many tens of millions on television, Larson leads you sleuthing through Biblical and many other historical clues. He then pilots a computer model of the universe across the skies of 2000 years ago as you watch. At these presentations, you will see the striking celestial events the ancients saw.
It reminded me of a book I have but never really read, The Witness of the Stars by E. W. Bullinger, written in 1893, that is a very thorough treatise on how the stars and planets, the constellations and even the signs of the zodiac, were originally meant to show the gospel story. That book has become much more meaningful to me after seeing The Bethlehem Star.

Psalm 19 comes alive in a new way with these studies:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
On reading around in Bullinger's book I was intrigued to recognize that if Larson is right about the dating of Jesus' birth, then Bullinger had the wrong date and so missed it, of course missing the celestial signs that attended it, and so did Kepler for the same reason. Interesting sleuthing going on here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Haiti on the way to recovery. Let it be so, Lord.

I hope hope hope this is what it purports to be , a real move of God in Haiti. Three days of fasting and prayer by a million people in Haiti, crying out to God to forgive them and heal their country. How wonderful. This is what is needed. President Preval called for these days of fasting and repentance to replace the Mardi Gras celebration.

I'm sure those who organized it and those reporting it believe it is genuine and I want to also. Scriptures were read, prayers were prayed, songs of worship were sung. Praise God for it if it is genuine. Three thousand conversions are claimed, 101 of them confirmed to have been voodoo priests. Heart-wrenchingly wonderful if genuine.

So why do I have any reservations at all?

Because the name of Jesus Christ was not spoken even once in this video.

Because nothing was said about how people in Haiti think they can be both Christian and voodoo practitioners to assure us this confusion is overcome in this event.

Because "Christianity" is too often equated with Catholicism and ritual instead of genuine relationship with Christ.

Because in such an atmosphere there is some question how complete a conversion is going to be.

I hope hope hope it is genuine. I hope that at least a huge proportion of it is genuine. I wish it hadn't been presented in such a sloppy emotional way so that it's impossible to judge whether it is genuine or not.

But we will know them by their fruit.

Lord, I pray that You will bless Haiti mightily with a new allegiance to You and a complete healing of their unhappy land.

Us too, Lord, us too.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thy Kingdom come, Lord, to this benighted world

Been watching a documentary on Netflix off and on today, Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion. Despite its many good reviews I had put off watching it because it has the involvement of so many well- known Hollywood leftists. I expected a heavy dose of leftist propaganda.

Instead, because of the nature of the Tibetan situation, their sympathies are against the biggest leftist force on the planet these days, China, and the enormities perpetrated by China against the Tibetans over the last fifty years and more are thoroughly documented and profoundly disturbing.

I had known nothing about the political situation in Tibet until now. I certainly knew of the Dalai Lama who has traveled the world speaking for his Buddhist beliefs, but somehow it had escaped me that his primary concern is the horrendous misery of his Tibetan people at the hands of the Communist Chinese -- possibly because I avoid liberal/leftie demonstrations like the plague and there have been some on behalf of the Dalai Lama -- one of them shown at the end of this film.

The artificial ideology-driven nature of Communism is quite apparent in the statements by various Chinese spokesmen, the false ideas of "oppression" and of "religion" and the like that rationalize their brutalization and murder of the "oppressed" in their program to "liberate" them. How much of this is believed by the people who use it for propaganda I don't know, but I have the feeling at least some of it is.

The version of Buddhism preached by the Dalai Lama is completely nonviolent and quite touching in its insistence on forgiveness and nonhatred toward the Chinese. At one point in the film (around 1 hour, ten minutes into it - you can watch it on your computer from Netflix) a narrator comments how different it would be if Christians had such an immediate relationship with their leader as the Tibetans have with their Dalai Lama, because much motivation comes from such a relationship that we are apparently lacking -- a remark which is still reverberating in my head.

But we DO have such a relationship, I want to protest, and so much MORE of a relationship since it is not with a mere holy man but the God Who made all things. Our leader is NOT someone who died two thousand years ago and whom we do not expect to see again until He returns for our salvation, as the narrator claimed; our leader is MORE immediately with us than the Dalai Lama is to the Tibetans, and we don't have to go anywhere to see Him; we can address Him all day long.

But how sad that this is not apparent to others. Is this our fault or is it the nature of Christianity that it is not apparent?

I have to think it's our fault.

I often wonder to myself how it can be that we Christians are intimately connected with the omnipotent God who made this universe and yet the power that ought to be associated with that connection is so apparently lacking.

I've discovered that it takes very little exposure to the plight of peoples in the rest of the world to show up the western version of Christianity for our trivial pursuits and our powerlessness. How can we justify our humdrum preoccupations when we are potentially wielders of the power of God Himself on behalf of the world and yet keep our sights so low, so personal, instead? I receive information from a small church in India (as well as other ministries in India) a very small poor church where the pastor works all day long for his people as well as for other pastors and their people in neighboring areas when needed. His transportation is a bicycle. His people have the bare necessities but no more, simple food and clothing, a roof overhead. Periodically, houses in the area are swamped in monsoon floods. Not too far away other Christians have been suffering violent attacks from the Hindus who beat and kill them and burn their houses, tear the clothes off the women and rape them, and drive the people into the woods. It can leave a person feeling utterly helpless and useless to know just a little about these things. Then I see this film about Tibet and feel the same way. American Christians are very generous, give to causes all over the world, and yet it still leaves one feeling helpless and useless to see the need that can never be met, knowing the main need is for them to come to Christ.

And Tibet's religion of nonviolence is unfortunately a lesson to us I think, or should be. How did we ever get to defending participation in war at all? Yes, I know American wars have been good, or for good causes and all that, I know that violence on behalf of good causes can be justified easily enough ... and yet I can't get out of my mind the fact that Jesus told us not to resist evil, barely allowed a mere couple of swords for His disciples when the crucifixion was looming, preached against even hatred in the heart as murder and told us to be meek, to die to ourselves, to love, bless and forgive our enemies and the like. Aren't we told our strength is in our weakness, that HE is our strength and we only possess it by emptying ourselves of our selves? What we must sacrifice of His power by leaning to our own understanding!

Yet the Tibetan Buddhists practice meekness and nonviolence and forgiveness and we don't? A tribal religion that also practices rote ritual prayers and appeases spirits? The strength we receive in weakness is a supernatural strength; theirs is at best psychological and yet even when they lose faith in it they have more faith in theirs than we in ours.

How can this be?

The self-indulgence and worldliness and consequent spiritual weakness of the western churches is a terrible shame.

One more thing. I think capitalism is the best economic system for producing wealth and growing the economy, BUT I also think it needs restraints, and about 25 minutes or so before the end of this documentary, it does unfortunately begin to be demonstrated that another sin Christians should be working to overcome is the love of money -- a root of all evil for sure, as is shown in the growth of trade with China that has drowned out protests against their abuses of human rights.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Culture Wars: The Pilgrims and the Indians

The Culture Revisionists are going full steam these days. Just ran across another example.

Started watching a documentary on Netflix, The American Experience about the Indian tribes of America, "We Shall Remain," and right away the Indians are the good guys and the Europeans the bad guys. I suppose there's some poetic justice in this up to a point, since earlier treatments of such subjects were awfully one-sided in the opposite direction.

Now in the politically correct multicultural view (more accurately it should be known as the anti-western-cultural view) the Indians are subtly presented as more civilized than the whites in a way, in little things -- expressions, manner, bearing etc., -- the Indians have dignity and family feeling, the whites appear to be a rather scruffy wild crew. And the narrator describes them in such terms:
In December of 1620, after 66 days at sea, and five uneasy weeks on the northern tip of Cape Cod, a SCRAGGLY CULT from England anchored its sailing vessel, the Mayflower, off the mainland coast and sent a small party of men to scout the wooded shores. RADICAL RELIGIOUS VIEWS HAD MADE THE PILGRIMS UNWELCOME AND UNWANTED IN ENGLAND. They had no home to go back to if they failed to make one in this new world. [my emphases of course]
It's all in the point of view, right? This is an outsider point of view, not the American point of view, certainly not the Christian point of view. There's no hint in this characterization of a people coming across the ocean on a noble enterprise with the noble ideas about government that became the Mayflower Compact and ultimately influenced the greatest nation ever to exist, with a true understanding of the cause of Christ, or anything of the sort.

Soon after they arrive they come across a mostly abandoned and destroyed Indian village --Patuxit -- where the population had been drastically reduced by disease, and "they attributed this devastation to God looking out and clearing the way for His chosen people." Which of course in the context of the miserable sufferings of the people who died there sounds quite ignoble.

And in the whole presentation there's no hint of a genuine Christian faith that rises above fallen human nature.

Then the film does show the efforts at good will between the peoples and their success, while continuing to picture the whites as just a little less than noble and the Indians a little better than.

I had to stop watching.

Later edit: By the way, I started this film because I had just watched one about the Navajo code talkers who played such a big role in WWII against the Japanese, and was very touched by their patriotism. I hurt for them that they weren't given the recognition they so deserved, especially when it was mentioned this was at least partly because the army was still racist then. I'm far from insensitive to this problem in other words, but it's terribly wrong when the "solution" is an attack on white culture and an elevation of the Indian, whose culture is NOT to be compared to Christian culture whatever its merits. It's sad our history is so rocky, with so much lack of respect for the American Indians, but the solution is NOT "multiculturalism."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mealy mouthed "Christians" who keep the world in bondage to Satan

I've been unable to find the quote on the internet but I heard it on Christian radio yesterday and hope I got it right: Richard Stearns of World Vision announcing that "God didn't do this to Haiti," because God is merciful etc. etc. etc. It was quoted along with a report that even in the midst of the disaster people are praising God, worshiping and singing hymns.

Sure sounds nice and Christian, but what a sentimentalized bogus Christianity it is if it rests on a denial of God's sovereignty in judgment as well as blessing. What God is REALLY being worshipped here? What a bunch of carnal pollyannas so many Christians are.

Where's the salt and light in this mealymouthed sweet-talking devilish doctrine?

What sort of God wouldn't punish sin I want to know? What kind of "mercy" is it if there is no deserved punishment to be merciful ABOUT? What sort of God wouldn't finally have to punish a land as full of satanic voodooism as Haiti? A country where it's been said they are 80% Catholic but 100% voodoo or something like that. You can't mix voodoo and Christianity. Any percentage of voodoo whatever cancels out any Christian element (but let's face it, there's hardly anything Christian left in Roman Catholicism anyway, which is made only too clear where they endorse and tolerate such native devil religions as voodoo as they do in Haiti). And the evil in voodoo is so rotten and so deep that you can even see it in the young voodooists who are stealing the food given as aid to the suffering right out of the mouths of their own fellow Haitians. DISGUSTING. There's NOTHING Christian about that. That is worse than animal behavior.

Those Christians who are denying that God is sovereign over earthquakes and all other natural events, and that nothing happens that does not express something of His governance over this world -- absolutely nothing -- are some day going to have to answer for a weakened, even utterly useless, gospel message and a powerless church.

If there is no judgment from which we are to be saved, then there is no salvation worth the name. And what happens to "fear of God" which scripture so strongly declares to be the beginning of wisdom? We've lost any true Biblical wisdom. God help His people.

The Haitians need to be told in no uncertain terms that God IS judging Haiti for their witchcraft (at the top of what is no doubt a long list of other offenses) and that until that is denounced and given up they will never emerge as a viable society at all. Not to mention that individually their voodoo is taking them all to Hell. It is NOT mercy to tell them otherwise, to coddle them about how God wouldn't do such a thing to them. That in fact is to despise and condemn them to much more suffering, just as God tells us in the Book of Proverbs that to spare the rod is to hate your child. Satan himself tells them it's not their fault and keeps them in bondage to voodoo.


Here's a good discussion of the situation with emphasis on how AMERICA is already under judgment.