Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture, Part 2 – Situational Awareness

I find it interesting that the first paragraph of military combat orders cover the battlefield “Situation”, followed by “Mission”. Many of us might think that a statement of the missions would come first. ‘Situational Awareness’ (SA), a term familiar to many of us, means nothing more than recognizing your circumstances; knowing what’s going on around you. For instance, a military commander must be aware of the total situation (enemy and friendly) around him and his unit on the battlefield, as well as the bigger ‘strategic’ picture.  Total situational awareness is essential for successful military operations against any enemy, on any battlefield, for any warrior.  As Christians, and warriors in the Kingdom of God, we need to maintain complete situational awareness as inhabitants of planet earth (the battlefield environment), as well as our Commander’s intent (God’s strategic picture).

Sadly, we often lose focus of both our battlefield environment and our Commander’s intent, for a variety of reasons, ranging from our tendency to focus almost exclusively on ‘personal’ growth and fulfillment, to applying human wisdom and worldly principles to the operation of the ‘postmodern’ church as a whole.  At both levels, the result is that the Lord of the harvest, the Holy Spirit, sits in the back of the bus as we arrogantly occupy the driver’s seat!

Dear readers and friends, it is past time to regain our ‘situational awareness’ and overcome our spiritual ‘nearsightedness.’  For that task, we need to ‘begin at the beginning’ of our lives as Christians and go from there.  In a familiar and often quoted verse of Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”     2 Corinthians 5:17

What a promise – the greatest makeover of all time!  When we place saving faith in Christ, we step out of darkness and into the light, passing from death to life!  We are given a new nature in Christ as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our being, giving us a desire to serve God and the power to live a life of obedience to Him. This is common knowledge, not rocket science.

Our ‘makeover’ is so complete that in another of his letters to the early church, Paul presents what is a mystery to limited human logic.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” – Ephesians 2:6

This is a bit more difficult for human logic to grasp, but notice the past tense verbs in this verse. Paul is saying that as Christians, although we physically remain here on planet Earth, we have already been ‘raised up’ and ‘seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.’  Paul partially explains this mystery in more easily understood terms a bit later in the same chapter:

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. . .” – Ephesians 2:19

A citizen is a legal resident of a nation, country or state.  Paul is saying that, at the moment of salvation, our ‘legal citizenship’ status changed!  One could say that if before we received Christ, we could have visited the ‘heavenly realm,’ we would have been ‘illegal aliens.’  We are not like the child born to an American military family overseas, who has dual-citizenship status until he or she is 18 years old and needs to make a decision.  We are NOT dual citizens.  Now listen to the Apostle Peter in one of his letters to the early church:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” – 1 Peter 2:11 

Do you see the contrast here? Paul tells us that at one time we were ‘aliens and foreigners’ to God’s household, while Peter tells us that as Christians we are now ‘aliens and strangers’ in the world in which we live!

Why is the world in which we live ‘foreign territory,’ why are we ‘aliens and strangers in it,’ and how do we apply these truths?

First, we need to understand that the world in which we live is not, the world that God created and pronounced ‘good’ and ’very good’.  In fact, Scripture tells us that the willful disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden affected more than just our little piece of turf.  There is a clear description of the present condition of God’s creation in Romans 8:17-24, in which we find the following:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”  – Romans 8:22

All of God’s creation is somehow tainted, polluted by sin, and in need of redemption.

Scripture also gives us an interesting description of the state of the human race after the fall of Adam, as well as a who seems to be controlling things (the god of this world).

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”   – Ephesians 2:1-2

“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.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

As believers, we are citizens of the household of God, with a new ‘landlord,’ servants of the Most High God, no longer bound by the god of this world.  And as members of God’s household, we are now foreigners and strangers to the world we live in and enemies of the ‘god of this world.’

If you still aren’t convinced of your citizenship as a Christian, listen to the words of Jesus from his high priestly prayer:

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  – John 17:13-16

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that we are living behind enemy lines!  Perhaps this has caused your thought process to pause for a moment of speculation.  Maybe it came to a screeching halt because your first reaction was “No way!”  Then hear what the Apostle James had to say to believers in his day who were becoming a bit too ‘friendly’ with the fallen culture around them.

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  James 4:4

If you still aren’t convinced that we are living in enemy territory, I encourage you to read James 4in its entirety, followed by Jesus’ words to his followers in John, chapters 15 and 16, concerning what to expect from the world that is hostile to God.

All of the above leaves with an inescapable question: “Why are we still down here?”   More to follow.

Who are Christians?

I had an invite to church this morning, thanks to a Facebook post from a contemporary megachurch with several large campuses. As is my custom, I went in search of their “About” link to find out their doctrinal statement. I finally found it, after I scrolled down the home page and finally reached the bottom of the page, where a lot of “What We Believe” statements are found these days. This particular church had a lot of good statements, as do a lot of churches. They all talk a good game. One particular statement caught my attention:

JESUS CHRIST DWELLS IN ALL BELIEVERS
Christians are people who have invited the Lord Jesus Christ to come and live inside of them by His Holy Spirit. They relinquish the authority of their lives over to Him thus making Jesus the Lord of their lives accomplished for them when He died, was buried, and rose again from the dead.

(John 1:12, 14:17, 15:4; Romans 8:11; Revelation 3:20)

We are provided the definition of a Christian: “Christians are people who have invited the Lord Jesus Christ to come and live inside of them..”

The scripture passages cited to support that definition are:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” John 1:12

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Neither of the above passages supports becoming a Christian by inviting Jesus to live inside you. John 1:12 clearly says that a Christian is one who “receives Christ and believes in His name.” I’ll admit that anyone who invites Jesus onto their hear receives Christ (for something) and believes in Him (for something), but WHAT? There are a lot of contemporary churches these days that offer Jesus Christ for a LOT of things, but not the perfect sacrifice for our sins. One of the largest of those churches is Lakewood Church in Houston. I’ll leave that right there.

Revelation 3:20 comes a bit closer to supporting the notion that ‘inviting Jesus into your heart’ makes you a Christian, but no matter how popular it is, it also fails. You see, Jesus not speaking to individual lost sinners, he is speaking to His own church, asking to come back in! Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself.

So, who IS a Christian? Let’s let Jesus answer that question:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

Simply put, a Christian is someone who has repented of their sin and believed the gospel (Jesus died for our sins).

Much more can be said, but nothing more needs to be said.

Be blessed!

God’s Nutritional Codes?

I recently received another unsolicited FA (Facebook Algorithm) generated post that offered to reveal God’s eating plan for us as revealed in 2000-year-old scrolls and just recently discovered by Kristina Wilds. She had all sorts of certificates attesting to her expertise in several areas. Above all, she is a follower of Christ. Apparently, for 20 years she had been wrong about a lot of things, and finally had the bright idea to just ask God. This was done by reading the Bible and taking a lot of notes (she ended up with three wide binders full of them), What kept jumping out at her (her revelation?) were about eating ‘fat’/’fatness’. There are a LOT of them. I now have a 20-page document all about ‘fat’, which includes at least 150 scripture passages, Not all of those are about eating fat, of course, but some of them are used to support the idea that eating the right kind of fat is the key to health, rather than all of the other fads that have sprung up through the years.

I got to watch an hour-long video in which there were occasional Bible verses (not found on the website advertisement at The Disciples Way) used to support her claim that the Holy Spirit personally revealed to her a long lost secret about what God commands us to eat (and not to eat). Some of the really cool benefits for Christians are:

  • You can use the Bible to jumpstart weight loss at any age.
  • The ‘Divine Willpower On Demand Prayer’ you’ll praise God for.
  • God knows how hard it is to lose weight.
  • Biblical cooking hacks.
  • Once you follow God’s path concerning what you eat, you’ll feel more energy and more committed to you community and God.
  • You’ll be more attentive when God speaks to your heart.
  • You’ll feel spiritually awakened and able to hear His calling for you and fully understand his plan for you.
  • God wants more abundance for you; for you to be healthy and happy
  • You will be able to experience his earthly blessings.
  • By eating His healing fats, you won’t experience “diet hunger” ever again.
  • You will discover how to fuel your body the way Jesus would, using foods ‘hidden’ in your grocery store.

Of course, it will cost something. here was he usually pitch saying it normally costs, but you can get it for really small amount.

The ultimate pitch near the end of the video tells us that it’s not about the money for Kristina, but about answering God’s calling on her life and serving others by sharing what the Holy Sprit revealed to her. She wants to impact as many Christian’s loves as possible and bring non-believers to Christ through Biblical Nutrition.

WOW! How could a good Christian NOT sign up!

All we really have here is a scam to get money from naive, biblically illiterate believers, and it makes me angry for at least 2 reasons:

  • That this lady would have the audacity/nerve to intentionally go after the ‘Christian’ dollar. Yes, I said ‘intentionally’. She will be held accountable.
  • ·That there are professing Christians who will fall for it

And BTW, while the web site ad and the video never tell you what these healing fats are, you can Google ‘healing fats’ and get multiple lists in a matter of seconds, and or FREE.

Church Social Media Marketing Strategies?

Church Social Media Marketing?

I don’t usually post things like this, but this is worth mentioning. My news feed is literally filled with the same sort of posts, probably the (unwanted) courtesy of a Facebook algorithm of some sort.

A post came across my news feed yesterday that started out with this:

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It also told those of us who read it that:

We all know we SHOULD be doing more as far as Social Media Marketing goes…

It’s where all the kids (and adults!) are at, it’s where today’s ATTENTION is at…

❓Question: But why isn’t it working for churches?

‼️ Answer: Because churches have been doing it all Sᗡᴚ∀MʞϽ∀q.

I call it the “hook”.

The rest of the post, which I’ll gracefully skip, explains to Pastors HOW they’ve been getting it all wrong and sends them the standard link these posts include (to reel you in):

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Here was my comment:

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Here is the sole reply to my comment:

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Actually, in his reply, the Chaplain quoted Mark 16:15, and added what he ‘thought’ Jesus ‘intended’, and what we have is an example of what is called ‘eisegesis’, or reading into the scripture what one wants to be there. In this case, what is being supported is the concept of needing a ‘marketing strategy’ to promote a local church. Sadly, that concept is not new.

Even worse is the reasoning behind the notion. It seems to be a near universal notion that church growth is all about the numbers of posteriors in the pews (or theater seats). To that I have one answer:

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And I’ll leave that right there. . .

Sharing the Gospel in a Hostile Culture, Part 1 – Be Available

It’s not exactly rocket science that our American culture seems to be more hostile to public expressions of Christianity with each passing day. Christian values across the board are ridiculed when they run counter to a society’s prevailing values and attitudes, and it’s nothing new. At the same time, sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is both the mission and great privilege of all believers. So how are we to accomplish this mission knowing that merely expressing our faith in public settings outside of our respective faith communities?

This is the first in a series of articles addressing this all important issue from the personal perspective of an old soldier who just wants “to leave something behind” (to quote the title of a Sean Rowe song) that might help others traveling along Gospel Highway.

As the above title states, the first step is to just ‘be available’. It sounds easy, but it might be more difficult that it sounds. While all of us have at one time or another told God (not without a certain amount of pride) that we are available to do whatever he commands us to do, who among us has not taken a step backward when faced with very real consequences of exiting the jump door of a high performance aircraft into unknown darkness. Paratrooper metaphor aside, it can be scary. So before you declare to our Savior your willingness and availability to share His gospel with the world around you, consider the cost in terms of what it will mean in your personal life. Are you ready to be open about your Christian faith, no matter what? That’s the starting point. Keeping your faith to yourself isn’t an option.

While I might not know you, I do know that if you are available, God will use you. Here are a few examples I know of from within the Special Forces community.

  • ·A small detachment of SF soldiers were training in the Allegheny forest in Pennsylvania. One of the men was known by all of the men to be a Christian, although he didn’t advertise it. Another of the men, a team medic, was dating a girl from Boston who was a Christian and talked about God now and again. The entire detachment was sitting around a camp fire in the woods (non-tactical) and the medic started talking about his ‘Christian’ girlfriend from Boston and asking questions.
  • ·An SF Battalion field headquarters was established in the Cape Cod area for a training exercise. During the exercise one of the SF soldiers in the Bn died when both of his parachutes failed during an infiltration operation in upstate NY. His name was Bob and he was a strong believer. The Bn Commander in the Cape Cod location wanted to have a memorial service for Bob and asked for someone who was close to Bob to visit with the local minister who was to mold the service in the field headquarters. As a result of the meeting, the entire field headquarters heard a clear presentation of the gospel message, from the commander (LTC) on down.
  • ·An SF “A” Team Leader (CPT) was killed over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988 returning from an exercise planning event. The Pan Am aircraft was destroyed by a bomb. One of his Team Sergeants, an E-8, who had served his Team for a year before being reassigned to another position in the 10th SF Group, was a believer and all of the team members knew it. The former Team Sergeant attended the funeral service at the SF Chapel at Ft. Devens. When the casket bearers were walking from the chapel to the waiting hearse, the former Team Sgt’s eyes and the eyes of the casket bearers met and a silent reminder of the finality of death passed between them.

We share these examples solely to demonstrate what can happen, in God’s providence, just because you are available, without any overt actions on your part. No initiating religious conversations, passing out Gospel literature, or “I’m a Fool for Jesus, Whose Fool Are You?” bumper stickers. God opens doors. All we do is walk through those doors and let God be God. Seeds of the Gospel are sown and souls are eternally saved.

I leave you with a question.

Are you available?

Be blessed as you grow in Christ!