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Category Archives: Culture

Counter the Culture

In the middle of 1 Peter (2:13-3:12), the apostle Peter explains how Christ followers are to live in relationship to others. We are to practice submission, willingly placing ourselves under authority as citizens (2:13-17), workers (2:18-25), marriage partners (3:1-7), and members of Christ’s body (3:8-12).

Admittedly, submission is a difficult topic to preach on because we live in a culture that is anti-authority. While we don’t necessarily want to lead, none of us want to follow. We want to be in charge of our own lives and not have to answer to someone else’s bidding.

When Scripture says one thing and society tells us something entirely different, we have several options. We can:

  • Reject the Bible—Don’t even attempt to read or understand what it says.
  • Avoid the parts we find disturbing—Don’t talk or preach about them.
  • Reinterpret the disagreements as “cultural, not timeless”—Since times have changed, those instructions are irrelevant.
  • Negate the problem by “attacking the author”—Accuse the apostle Paul or the apostle Peter of being a male chauvinist of the worst kind; and conclude that only Jesus’ word can be trusted. (Since Jesus doesn’t address sexuality or marriage roles & responsibilities, it must not be important.)
  • Determine it isn’t relevant—While this part of the Bible may be true, it cannot be lived in this day and age.
  • Accept the truth of Scripture and pattern our lives after it.

If you want to be truly counter cultural, study the Scriptures and commit yourself to obedience. Where it says to submit, willingly place yourself under the authority of the one above you. Don’t be afraid to swim against the tide.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in 1 Peter, Culture, Marriage, Scripture

 

Is there hope for Christianity in a Post-Truth World?

Book Review: Hope of Nations: Standing Strong in a Post-Truth, Post-Christian World, by John S. Dickerson

“When did it become normal and routine for us to daily expect news of another terror attack, shooting, or act of evil?” With that opening sentence, pastor, journalist, and author John Dickerson launches an insightful, eye-opening explanation of the world in which we live, the trends we are facing, and how evangelical Christians can face these challenges with confidence.

This book explains—definitively, simply, and accurately—just what is happening in our world, our nation, and our society. This book enables you to see where these events are leading and why they are happening. This book combines the research of a decorated journalist with the Bible teaching and guidance of a pastor and bestselling author.

On this eye-opening journey, we will combine culture reporting, surprising new data, global understanding, Scripture, and history to answer the four pressing questions of our day: What in the world is happening? Why are these things happening? Where will all of this lead? And, most importantly, how do we live like Christians now?

Part 1 deals with the first two questions, What is happening, and why? The author goes into detail about five forces that are shaping the cultural landscape. (1) Humans are Sinning; (2) Satan is Scheming; (3) Ideologies are Warring; (4) Western Civilization is Unraveling; and (5) Christ and His People are Prevailing.

Part 2 answers the question, Where will it lead? The author explains what he believes can and cannot happen along with the nine post-Christian trends we will face.

By the end of the first two parts, you tend to feel discouraged and overwhelmed. But Part 3 provides a sense of hope and a strategy as to how to face the challenge biblically. The author presents nine manifestos we can embrace. Each one addresses the nine post-Christians trends presented in the previous section.

Trend we will face Our posture
Post-Truth We will remain rooted to the Christian Scriptures.
Post-Knowledge We will train our young.
Post-Church We will be known for doing good.
Post-Human We will dignify all people as image bearers of God.
Post-Christian We will be ambassadors.
Post-Decency We will love our persecutors.
Post-Prosperity We will remain calm.
Post-Liberty We will be invincible.
Post-Peace We will be fearless.

Throughout the book, the author combines cultural insight, current statistics, historical examples, and biblical teaching. The book is well worth reading and pondering.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2018 in Books, Culture

 

A new perspective on Esther

Book Review: Faith Among the Faithless: Learning from Esther How to Live in a World Gone Mad, by Mike Cosper

Can Christianity survive a secular age? Can Christians live without compromise in an increasingly hostile society? And what if they’ve already given in to that society’s vision and values? Could the answers to these modern day dilemmas be found in an Old Testament book that was written almost 500 years before Christ?

Author Mike Cosper has written a provocative new book on the story of Esther. Rather than a commentary, he explores the book in terms of its historical and cultural setting and what it says to our situations today. He provides a fresh look on an old story.

I am talking about Esther, but not the Esther you may think you know. I’m talking about the real Esther—the biblical and historical Esther—whose life was a whirlwind of spiritual compromise and spiritual awakening, and whose story is full of power, sex, and violence.

This is the Esther whose great moment is marked not by a show of force, but by vulnerability. The climax of her story comes when, after weakening her body with three days and nights of fasting, she walks a path that could most likely end in her death, in hopes of saving God’s people.

Esther’s story reveals a way forward in a culture where people of faith find themselves at the margins of society. She neither clutches for power nor seeks self-protection. Instead, she faces reality, embrace weakness, and finds faith, hope, and help from a world unseen.

Her story is also an invitation to those whose faith, convictions, and morality are less than they wish they were.

While I have studied and taught the story of Esther on several occasions over the years, I was challenged and intrigued by the author’s insights that I had not considered before.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Bible Study, Books, Culture, Quotes

 

Rationalizing Rational Lies

When we rationalize our actions, we believe the rational lies we have told ourselves.

A random thought during my recent travels.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Culture

 
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To friend or unfriend

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2018 in Culture, Facebook, Fun

 

Be All In

After spending two weeks in Russia, I often struggle when I return to the States. After seeing the commitment of my brothers and sisters in Russia, I question the habits of my church going friends in America.

During my first week in Anapa, one pastor and his friends drove nine hours to attend the three day class on the book of Revelation. Another pastor and two people came five hours by car and ferry to attend the class. All who attended carved out three days from their schedules to be present.

During my second week in Elista, the group did the preclass assignment in order to attend. They also rearranged their schedules to attend the three day course. Because of fear of persecution, they changed locations overnight and adapted their schedules accordingly. Though cautious, they came and did not stay away.

When I come home, I deal with those who are far less committed. Those who attend church once or twice a month and consider themselves regular attenders. Those who attend but never get involved. Those who observe but never participate. Those who are present but who defer when asked to serve. Those who keep their membership at one church but attend a different church. Those who never commit to anything because they want to keep their options open.

For the former, church is a matter of commitment. For the latter, church seems to be a matter of convenience.

Maybe it’s the jet lag talking, but I don’t get it.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Church, Culture, Russia

 

Speaking up about the ills of society

Book Review: A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear, by Michael Anthony

Far too many Christ followers are afraid to address the ills of society. They cower in the corner and hide from the attacks of the world. Rather than circle the wagons, pastor and author Michael Anthony believes we need to sit up, stand up, and speak out. He wants to mobilize and equip followers of Christ to walk by faith rather than by fear. That is the theme of his book, A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth, and Love in an Age of Intolerance and Fear.

In the first few chapters, the author addresses some of the areas where Christianity and moral values are under attack. He speaks about intolerance, religious freedom, sexual orientation, mind control, haters, and other societal issues. Rather than presenting points and counterpoints, his approach is to stress how to speak the truth in love. While speaking out about our convictions, we should do it in a winsome manner.

The strength of the book is in chapter 12, “Battle Plan,” where he describes 20 methods or strategies to stand up and speak out about issues of concern. Each chapter ends with a list of “Courageous Humility in Action,” practical ideas you can implement in daily life. The final chapter aims at “cultivating a courageous, humble church.”

The weakness of the book is that much of his ideas on based on his personal experience in how he addressed the issues. While encouraging, the reader might feel like they cannot identify with what he is doing. He also invites readers to participate in his movement, the national week of repentance, and his website couragematters.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Books, Culture