Monday, September 1, 2008

Building Bridges

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area as a child, there were many times that I would cross one of the many bridges that connect the Bay. Whether it be the San Mateo Bridge, Bay Brige or the Golden State Bridge, you could not help but recognize the beauty and grandeur of these great structures! These bridges are important to the well being of those that commute to jobs or transfer commerce. They are the life line of the Bay Area. A symbol of stregnth, yet a simple means of connecting communities to one another. By connecting communities we are able to enjoy other cultures, traditions and see things that we may not see otherwise. For Paul, this ment crossing the brige of philosophy to get into the world in which offered him an opportunity to reach others with the hope of Christ. It was not going to take a sign and stand on the corner. It was going to take getting into their world. "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible." (1Corinthians 9:19) Later on in the chapter (verse 22) Paul states, "I have become all things to all men..." Paul was building bridges within his culture. In order for us to reach our culture we must get into their world. We must see culture as they see it and be willing to build bridges that reach to them. Building that bridge requires us to understand other worldviews as well as having information that supports a Christian worldview. One Sunday morning as I was walking back to my seat at church, an older lady came to me in the church foyer and asked me, "Why do you believe the way you do?" I chukled thinking I was going to get a short sermon, yet she asked the question again. This time though there was a serious tone to her voice. I asked her what she believed. Her response blew me away. "I am a Jehovah's Witness. I was invited to this church and I disagree with what is going on!" I must admit I became nervious and scared, my faith was being challenged. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of a lesson I had taught just three weeks earlier on worldviews. For forty five minutes this woman and I shared our thoughts concerning our worldviews. I was able to share my faith with her and the hope Christ brings. There was no shouting. There was no finger pointing. We sat down in that foyer and had a discussion. No, there was no salvation card passed out that day, but I believe a seed had been planted. Before we departed, I prayed with her and we went our separate ways. I was blown away at what happened, yet my faith and confidence was strengthened! In uderstanding my worldview and those around me I was able to build a bridge where God used me to plant a seed in the life of this precious lady. So many times people will cry out "Lord use me to impact people's lives!", yet they are stuck in their own world that they do not see life around them. They cannot build or cross the bridge that stands before them because they are not prepared to give an answer. Paul wrote Timothy to be prepared "in season and out of season". I beleive that when we are prepared to face our culture God will open the doors of opportunity to either plant seeds or reap in the harvest. I've always had Jehovah Witnesses knock on my door, but never in church! In David J. Hesselgrave's book Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally he writes, "understanding another person's worldview (or belief system) is the starting point for commuicating the gospel." Being a bridge-builder means getting out of our nice comfort Christian boxes and seeing the world as God sees it. That does not mean that we conform to the world and sacrifice the witness we bare. It means that we confidently rise up and step into the culture with the hope and purpose God has given to us. To build bridges that connect us to others, getting us into their world, in order to impact the surroundings with a worlview that breaths life through Christ.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ethics of Postmodernist

Everything has an opposite. Winner - Loser. Pass - Fail. Cadillac - Yugo. Good - Bad. God - No God. Heaven - Hell. Truth - No truth.
Within our generation we are seeing the opposites battle for truth. As a Christian worldview holds onto truth in the realm of Creation, one may assume that an all powerful God created all that we know. It is through Him that all matter, space and time can be contributed. When a worldview holds onto the reality of God creating mankind, we have a duty to our fellow man. Even though we may posses a sinful nature, we are created in the image of God. He did not speak man into existence, He breathed life into him. Since man is a part of God's creation, He calls us to reach out to others. To feed and clothe the poor is not a duty of the Christian community, but a call from our heavenly Father. The opposite comes from Richard Rorty, postmodernist thinker, states that all dignity of man comes from the tradition that is bestowed upon man. He writes, "it is part of the tradition of our community that the human stranger from whom all dignity has been stripped is to be taken in, to be re clothed with dignity." (Truth Decay, pg. 188) The question that arises concerning Richard Rorty's idea of tradition, is what "tradition" of truth can bring dignity back to one's down trodden life. What if the "tradition" brings a person in, gives them back their dignity and then sends them off. Is that person well off from the time he/she was brought in? Let's say that "tradition" gave back dignity in the means of a monthly food stamp. Are the problems that brought the person to this state erased? The "tradition" of the Christian community is not to only help to bring back the dignity of one's being, but to give a foundation to life that can be found through Christ. Dignity may be brought back by a handout, but dignity that is founded in Christ restores one to greatness. Once again the opposites are at battle.
On postmodern ethics Kenneth Gergen states, "For the postmodern there is no transcendent reality, rationality, or value system with which to rule between competitors." (Truth Decay, pg 188) If the "tradition" of the community is to meet the need of man, then the idea of right and wrong must be stated. When right and wrong is loosely based on man's interpretation then one can determine for themselves how one may meet the need of an individual. Man may be given back their dignity, but now it is through their own doing that one may restore their self worth. Once again man becomes the determined factor, and may return to the place where he/she started. When truth is given a foundation, which is taken to be fundamentally true by the "Law Giver", one holds onto the responsibility given to us by God to meet the needs of mankind. Right and wrong, that is based upon the “Law” given to us by God, gives us the foundation to stand and impact our culture, who desires their dignity, and the answers to their problems. Douglas Groothuis, author of Truth Decay writes, “Only the God of the Scripture provides a source of moral authority and obligation, standards for ethical endeavor, the incentive and power for character, and a moral community of truth, which respects transcendent realities.”(Truth Decay, pg 207) Truth that is built on the ideas of Scripture will change lives and equip the masses with the confidence in knowing that a true living God cares for their very needs and is control of their future. More than likely man will not return to the point from which they started, but will move forward with hope and a purpose for living! No need for government hand outs, just good old hard sweat, compassion and the dignity to accomplish that which is before us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Conversation and Cuisine

Check out this website! Xenos.org. Xenos has an outreach called Conversation Cuisine. To find out more about it, go to their web site and click "Ministries". Then click "Evangelism". You will find Conversation Cuisine to the right. To understand Conversation Cuisine we need to look back into history when Ahtens and the Greek world ruled the minds of it's culture. Whether it was a lecture hall or the porticoes of the region, Paul took the Gospel where the intellectual mind was praised and challenged. In Thessalonica and other cities he would speak to the Jews in the center of their culture and local government, the synagogue. In Athens he spoke in the Areopagus concerning the idol erected "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD". For two years he spoke in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. In the majority of Paul's writing's we see him share his faith through his worldview. To the Colossians he writes, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and decptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ." (Col. 2:8) For the Corinthians he challenges them by writing, "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Cor. 1:20) To the province of Galatia, "I am confident in the Lord that you will not take any other view" (Gal. 5:10) In his first letter to Timothy, "Watch your life and doctrine closley. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Tim.4:16) In Paul's charge to Timothy he writes, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Tim. 1:2) Paul's ethical teachings revolved around his worldview. His worldview became the foundation and platform from which he threw himself into the ideas of his time. He took the Gospel from his heart and brought to the minds of the people. Through his worldview he was able to enter the arena of philosophy and discuss with the minds of his time, this "new" found faith in Christ.
Even though the idea of discussing philosophy has not changed, the porticoes have. We may call it Starbuck's. Barnes and Noble. Boarders. University cafe's. Conversation and Cuisine. The founders of C&C have caught the vision of Paul by bringing together the minds of this culture and presenting their worldview to the masses. What a great idea! In answering the question "Why a dinner-discusion party?" C&C provide the following answer, "...a perfect opportunity for them to experince what is like to be around people committed to God's love and hopefully develope a more trusting friendship with the home group member who invited them. This trust provides a context in which future discussions about spiritual matters take place;..." (xenos.org; 2003) The Christian members of C&C are meeting a need that the church sometimes lacks, and that is the area of ministering to the masses who would never step into a church setting. When exposing Christianity to postmodern society we need to be creative in the areas of evangelism. We need to have the confedience to enter their world and meet them at the crossroads of life. It seems that C&C does just that. It is providing a place for Christians, to strengthen their faith and to challenge the mindset of those who see themselves as king of their subjective world. Great job Xenos!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

21st Century Evangelism

Since the sixties we have seen a change take place within our culture. The breaking down of the foundation which we have built our worldview. This change exculated as we moved from the industrial age to the information age. Many economist and historians credit this change to the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the fall of the industrial age came the fall of evangelism as we knew it. During the industrial age evangelism may have been passing out a trac, or a tent meeting. There was a standard of right and wrong in our culture which made these forms effective. Yet when the information age came, mind and reason began to excel. Old ways of evangelism lost it's meaning. Today evangelism will not work as it use to. Since our culture began to look at reason and thought, Christian testimony began to lose it's validity. The fall of evangelist and disgrace of pastors added to the fuel of doubt, and our culture began to ask the hard question, "Why Christianity?" Our culture wanted to know why we believed in a worldview, that the very same leaders, who proclaimed truth were falling left and right. Paul was commissioned at a time when polytheism was the main religion. Pagan practices were of the norm. Greek thought permeated the culture which was "more X-rated and brutal than our own." ( ) Yet through Paul, God used him to impact his culture. He was'nt a sign holding evangelist. He didn't wear a t-shirt stating his belief. His tool was simple. Paul used his mind and spoke the words that came from the throne of God. He used his worldview to to lay the foundation and then presented Christ. "He spoke of God more in terms of His presence and power, and he even quoted truth from a Greek poet in order to connect with these "pagans" and get his point across: We are God's offspring." ( )Paul had confedience to impact his generation. There are three lessons we can learn from Paul. First, in order for us to stand strong we must have confidence in a true living God. It must be our foundation! We cannot waiver! God is not our "feel good" at the moment God. He is the creator of all living matter. "I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." (Isaiah 46:9-10). God is GOD period! Second, we must work on articulating our own worldview. "Always be prepared to given an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15) Remember people want to know the "why?" to the "what's?". Why do you believe Christ to be the only way? Why do you believe in absolutes? Why do you think the Bible is true? Why? Why? Why? Third, "if the early church could flourish in a Graeco-Roman culture" ( ), so can we today! Cowboy up church! It's time to ride!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Truth....Trut....Tru....Tr....T.....

The dissolving of truth in our culture is very much alive today through the technical solutions that are created to solve social problems and epidemics. An example of one epidemic is the AIDS crisis. Many will cry "more money for research!". "Find a cure" has become the battle cry. The cure is simple, whether straight or not, it's called choice. Chose to do that which is right, and bear the fruits of it's blessings. Chose to do which is wrong, bear the fruits of disobedince. A descision to have sexual relations in the confines of marraige and then be faithful to those vows, will bring blessings in a marraige. Go outside that vow, and it can not only cost you your marriage, but your life. Within the homosexual community the cry for a cure seems to be, in my view, a quick fix to continully live in a lifestyle that is against absolute truth.
During the 2003 MTV Awards, Modanna passed the mantel of sleaze to superstars Britney Spears and Christina Augilar by swapping seductive kisses to both girls. In previous interviews, both Britney and Christina had stated that their idol in the industry was Modanna. She was looked up to as a role model because she knew how to change with the times. In different occasions they had said it would be an honor to sing with their role model. They got their wish, and their role model used them for fame and passed on to the next generation the idea of being of who you are is more important than anything else!
The fading of truth is not based on the tablets of paper, but on the tablets of man's heart's. When truth is taken away and replaced by one's own standard, truth then will become whatever man so desires. A man idea may come to pass with its thinking. Issues may be solved. Ideas may give way to knowlwdge, but what if they fail? At one moment in time man's ideas will fail, we are not perfect. An idea that comes from God must come to pass! Ideas that are set in absolute truth will not faulter but become the foundation for all man because God himself has set the standard! As truth is thrown by the wayside in our society, who will we turn to becomes the "armaggedon" of our time.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Truth

Truth defined means reality, actual existence or an established fact. If the definitions of truth hold it's ground then we must measure the ideas of truth. As Christian theists, whose worldview is based on absolute truth, others may beg to differ. Yes, I do believe that the ethics of our society is cracking and melting away. If not careful the Christian worldview will continue to become part of the melting pot of religions that state, truth is based on man's ideas. In a recent poll taken by George Barna 83% of teens said moral truth depends on the circumstances, 6% said moral truth is absolute. If this is the case, the defense for truth is greater than ever, especially within the minds of our young people. Many times in class I use this illustration to describe truth decay to my students. Behind my house there is a road and every year the same pot hole would come back. The city crew would come out fill it, and it would last though the summer. Winter would come and all the elements that comes with it, rain and ice. That pot hole would resurface again, and the cycle would be repeated! It wasn't until the city dug up the street and repaved it that we did not see that pothole again. Truth can be described as the road, the pot holes represent the decay in truth. The question is, what will man fill the pot holes with? What worldview will be poured into the holes of life in order to fill the chaos of the world? What truth will fill the hole of society? Since the goal of postmodernist is to take the reality of truth out of the picture, the potholes of life will continue to be filled with the values and ideas of man. Thus, the pot holes of truth will continue to reappear. Friedrich Nietzsche believed that truth was found in the individual. He believed that truth was based on ones own experince. In other words truth was based on the subjective idea of humanity. For Nietzsche, he filled that pothole of society with himself. The only problem with "I", is that "I" fails, because "I" is not perfect! The only way that the potholes of life can ever be fixed is by the acknowledgement of reality in truth. As a Christian theist truth is based on an absolute principle, the existence of a living God, who sent his Son to bring truth to all man. We may never turn the pages of history back, and the decay of truth may continue on. With a "new perception of religion" within society it may seem as the fight for an absolute truth has been lost. It is through the example of Paul who I believe we can find our encouragement. Paul never entered a city with a banner proclaiming "Jesus is the way the truth and life!". Paul challenged the very foundation of mans assumption of truth. It was Paul's worldview that made it possible for him to enter the porticos of thought. For the first time in a culture, that was polytheistic, someone spoke with passion and had a foundation to back it up. Just as today, people were searching for truth and it was Paul who gave an answer to the reality of his day. Today, Sunday school answers will not win the hearts of a postmodernist, it will be the challenge to know what we believe and why! Our idea of truth gives us confidence and a foundation because of faith in a living God. In the words of Paul, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Paul's Great Example!

Through the years I have come to believe that Paul was one of the greatest defenders of the faith. He had to be! In Acts 17 Paul visited Athens. A city that was polytheistic by all means. As Paul was walking the streets he notices altars set up to various god’s. One altar is said to have caught his attention, “The Altar to the Unknown God”. As was custom of the day a group of men, the Council of Areopagus(men who considered themselves as custodians of teachings that introduced new religions and foreign gods, NIV Bible Study), would listen to new ideas. Paul was brought before the council to share with them this "new" idea. The philosophers and others asked "What is this person trying to say?" What happens next is an example of one man using his knowledge of Christ and presenting him in such a way that he did not use Scripture but the very words of the culture's poets. He does not give a three point sermon, but shares his worldview. He refers the people to the altar that had been erected to "an unknown god." Paul opens the dialogue by talking about creation (verses 24-25). He then moves into the importance of humanity (verses 26-28). The dialogue closes with life and death (verses 29-32). As we read the chapter "a few men becoming followers." Paul was confident not just because of his knowledge of scripture or that he had followed the law as a Pharisee. He was confident because he had personally meet Jesus Christ and now was able to answer the question, "Why do you believe this?". I believe Paul realized that his success in spreading the gospel in his time had to come from having a foundation, and he found that foundation in his worldview. Why would Paul write to the churches about the importance of knowing their worldview?

2 Corinthians 4:4-5
"The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake."

Colossians 2:4
"I tell you this so that no one may deceive you be fine-sounding arguments"

Colossians 2:8
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Colossians 4:5-6
"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

2 Timothy 4:2
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction."

One may ask you, “What do you believe and why?” “What makes you so confident?” “How can you be so sure?” Your day will come. Will you be prepared, or will you give a Sunday school answer and miss an opportunity to impact someone's life? Your call is more than a missions trip, it is about knowing the "why" for the missions trip! It is more than wearing a Christian t-shirt, it is about the “reason” behind that t-shirt. Our worldview becomes the foundation for all that we do and believe. Without a strong foundation, how will we stand in the midst of those who doubt? How will we respond to the one who wants to know more about the hope we posses through Christ?

Your salvation is the key to open the door towards a relationship with a true living God! Your worldview is the foundation that will make it last forever! Are you ready?