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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Renewing of Your Mind

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
What is meant by "the renewing of your mind" in Romans 12? How does it happen? Why is this a commandment? What's actually going on here? These aren't just hypothetical questions. Paul links this transformation to the most important thing in the universe. By the renewing of our minds we prove that which is good and acceptable and perfect - the very will of God. If we as Christians want to do that which pleases God we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. So how?

First, we must see what the passage implies. It implies that our minds need to be renewed. It implies that there is something fundamentally wrong with our minds and that if that problem is not resolved we cannot do what is good and acceptable in the eyes of God. That's not just a little problem. It's a rotting mental disease!

In fact, just a bit earlier in Romans Paul points out that the mind that is not renewed is more than just diseased, it's positively pathological.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh... For the mind set on the flesh is death... because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8 NASB)
The mind apart from Christ is death, hostile toward God, rebellious, unable to even do good or please God. But what do we mean by "the mind"? The mind encompasses the thoughts, but it is more than that. It's the will deep within the core of our being, our hearts. Will drives thought and we are born corrupted to our very core by sin. Influenced by the will is our brain which is corrupted along with the rest of our body. So our corrupted will takes control of our corrupted brain and breeds even more corruption.

But God begins a work of transformation in us when we are saved, changing us into the image of Christ. However, we are not simply passive actors in this process. Nor are we left to fight through this by ourselves. We have a Helper, the Holy Spirit. And what does the Holy Spirit do for us? He reminds us of the words of Christ and the things of God as revealed in Scripture (John 14:25-26).

And there is our answer. This is how we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The renewing of our minds is a work of the Holy Spirit as he takes the thoughts of God as they are recorded in the Bible and brings them to remembrance. Those thoughts we never would have had before we now find in our minds. Those ideas that before we simply could not understand we now find made clear to us as the Spirit of God works in our minds and transforms us from the inside out so that our thoughts are in harmony with God's thoughts.

So what is our part? To listen! It is our responsibility to hear the words of God by reading the Bible, studying what God has said, going to Church and hearing the faithful exposition of scripture, and thinking about what we have read and heard. Then, as we go through our day we will find that those words are coming back to us. When tough times come promises and commandments of God that we read long ago leap back into our minds. When sin tempts us we remember what God has said and are convicted. When it is time for us to bear witness to Christ, the words of scripture are ready in our tongues.

At those moments we have a choice. We can obey or fight. This is what Paul is talking about when he says "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".  We are to push aside the old mind set on the flesh allow the Spirit of God to cause the word of God to so richly dwell within us (Colossians 3:16) that it changes our very thoughts and brings them captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) resulting in our lives being radically transformed from the inside out. The Spirit of God spends His ministry working this transformation within us, but it is not unilateral. We have the opportunity to work with Him and to accelerate the process as we listen and obey.

Let's take another look at Romans 8:5-14 and see how this comes together.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (NASB)
If you do not have the Spirit you are unable to think clearly. If you do not have the Bible and read it you are starving your mind of the food the Spirit uses to transform you. If you do not listen to the promptings of the Spirit then you are setting your mind on the flesh and fighting against the change that God is making within you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Coming Storm

Newsweek has just published the results of a survey of American teenagers. Seeking to repeat an experiment done in 1966 the editors were looking for the pulse of the American teen. The results are far from hopeful. How bad you ask? This bad...
Faith in God or some other divine being dropped from 96 percent in 1966 to 83 percent. Twice as many teens today feel their parents have tried to run their lives too much (24 percent, up from 12 percent in 1966). Fifty years ago, the five most admired famous people were John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Lyndon B. Johnson and Helen Keller, in that order. Today, pop culture rules, as President Barack Obama, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé top the list, with Selena Gomez tying Lincoln for fourth place.
Selena Gomez is just as admired as Abraham Lincoln? George Washington and Helen Keller are taking a back seat to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé? That's not just a problem, it's a catastrophe!

But let's focus for a moment on that first statistic. Belief in some kind of divine being (not even a belief in the God of the Bible) has dropped from 96% to 83%. What has been the result of this change? What other beliefs have been affected? Here are two:

  • 50% of teens support murdering babies by abortion.
  • 62% of teens support the twisted practice of homosexual "marriage".
Newsweek focusses in on race relations since that factored highest in the survey (even higher than it did in 1966!). That's understandable, but for the purposes of this blog let's take a long look at those two statistics above and what they signify today and for our future. 

50% of teens support infanticide by abortion. That means one out of every two teenage kids you meet believe that tearing a child apart in the womb is no big deal. To them a baby that hasn't exited the birth canal isn't a person but a thing. Don't minimize this attitude. As I've written elsewhere, a generation that sees people as things has no compunctions against murder when they decide that some people are less than human. 

The redefinition of what a human is is tied directly to the first statistic, a rise in atheism. Even more so when we realize that the "god" that a large majority of these teens "believe in" is not the God of the Bible but a "force" in nature or nature itself. If God is not the God of the Bible then we are not created in God's image. If we are not created in God's image we have no inherent value. We are simply sentient biological organisms no different than a dog or a bug and when a person isn't worth the time to society anymore they can be exterminated for the good of the many. As one of the most popular sci-fi franchises in history has proclaimed now for decades, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." So why not kill babies? They don't contribute anything. Why not kill old people? They're useless now. Why not kill the mentally disabled? They are leeches on society anyway. 

And what about that second statistic? 62% of our teens in the United States say they support homosexual marriage. That's just the ones that support it. How many just don't care about it one way or another? Not only does this ignore the clear declarations in the Bible against homosexuality, it ignores nature as well. Like the apostle Paul said, they give up their natural state and burn in their desire toward one another, men with men committing shameful acts and even the women burning in their desires for each other. This kind of denial of even the most obvious biological distinctions comes from a worldview that denies God, denies objective truth, and believes that people are fundamentally not responsible for who and what they are. They no longer choose to sin, they are a product of their genes and their environment. 

And even their genes are no longer determinative of who they are. If a boy with an X and a Y chromosome decides one day that he is a girl and his name is now Jane we are all obliged to call him by female pronouns, call him by his female name, allow him to walk into female bathrooms, and completely ignore what is blatantly obvious. We must treat him as a girl or we face social sanctions. The new morality demands that we live a lie and support others in their lies.

What's more, to point out the Biblical and logical problems with these positions is now considered "hate speech". Just by disagreeing with the blatantly murderous or illogical actions of others, those who adhere to a Biblical model are accused of hate and lumped into the same category as the KKK and the Nazis. No longer is tolerance of different ideas the highest value. Now the only value is toeing the political line, or else.

So what are we to do as Christians when we realize that these statistics show our country is not only in trouble, but racing at break-neck speed into disaster? Should we be angry or fearful? Should we hide? Should we run away? Should we strike back? None of the above! As Christians we are called to speak the truth in love. Our motivation is to redeem lost souls and protect people from the dangers of sin. We do this by presenting the truth. 

And where do we get the truth? From the Bible. These teens desperately need to hear the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their distorted views and failing ethics are not going to be resolved through therapy, better jobs, better race relations, a better environment or a just society. Their only hope is that they find forgiveness in the blood of Christ.

We must understand though that the opposition is growing and it's growing more vitriolic. We must walk carefully and ensure that we are not responding to sin out of hate. We must be aware that speaking up is likely to cause others to hate us more, not less. For some of us, we will likely face unemployment, prison or worse. That is to be expected, but we must make sure that when they do lash out against us they don't have a good reason for it. They should hate us for the truth, not because we hate them.

Monday, May 23, 2016

How little is our faith?

I am increasingly convinced that our generation of Christians has the least knowledge of the riches we have in Christ of any generation since the apostles. 

We who have been adopted as sons behave like squatters in the throne room of God. Our crowns bought with the blood of Jesus are tossed about like plastic dollar store baubles. The inspired word of God is little more to us than a doorstop holding ajar the gate of heaven. The table of the Lord is a burden to us blocking our way to the speedy exit of our churches. Our songs are hymns to our own happiness. We despise the body of which we are a part pronouncing it all gangrene, but assessing the draining boils and pustules of our own lives pure enough for a holy God. Our High Priest is our mascot, the Spirit is but a nuisance, and the Father merely our celestial vending machine. And in the midst of it all we kick open heaven's door, stomp into the throne room, and take the best seats at the table in complete confidence that none could be better than we.

What will be our condemnation when we stand before God? If only we knew the riches of Christ! 

England Christian No More

The Tuesday morning front page of the British newspaper The Guardian trumpets a seismic cultural change across the pond - "Christians now in a minority as UK becomes less religious". Less religious? That's an understatement! As the article says in the second paragraph...
The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population.
In the world of sociology that level of change in such a short amount of time is earthshaking news. It means there is a fundamental change in the structure of society that is absolutely unprecedented. In three short years 23% of the population decided that there is either no god or that they want nothing to do with a specific religion. For the first time in centuries the UK can no longer call itself a Christian nation.

The numbers though hide the reality that the problem is much deeper and will continue to accelerate. As the article points out, "Half of all Christians in England and Wales are over the age of 55." In addition, for every 1 person the Church of England recruits they lose 12. What's more, that 1 person they gained came from another denomination. Put together that means that the rapid decline of Christianity in England will accelerate in the next 30 years as the older demographic dies off.

The real story though is how the Church of England is responding to the news. A spokesperson commented, "The increase in those identifying as ‘no faith’ reflects a growing plurality in society rather than any increase in secularism or humanism. We do not have an increasingly secular society as much as a more agnostic one." 

That's simply not credible. Secularism has been on the rise in the UK over the last decade with the aggressive work of the New Atheists including broad advertising campaigns declaring such slogans as, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." England has responded by showing every sign of secularization including an every growing denial of Christian values. Of course some people leaving Christian churches will gravitate toward New Age religions, but even then they have a secular mindset.

What is really concerning is the complete lack of understanding by the Church of England that their defection to liberal theology has made the change all but inevitable. By denying the authority of Scripture and playing along with their secular foes they have given up without a fight. What's truly amazing is that there are any Christians at all left in the United Kingdom.

But before we here in the United States take a deep breath and thank God that we live in the good ol' USA we might want to consider the historical reality that what happens on the east side of the Atlantic ocean crosses to the west side in short order. In our bigger cities, and particularly the bigger cities on the East and West coasts there is a similar race to atheism, agnosticism, and secularism and for all the same reasons it has been happening in the UK and Europe. And what happens in the cities spreads to the rural areas as the elites of society spread their gospel of secular humanism through news, entertainment, and educational institutions.

The New Atheism

Dr. Albert Mohler
Why is New Atheism so full of hatred for Christians? Why is tolerance no longer the defining value of secularism? What is the "spirit of the age"?

Not long ago Al Mohler, one of the preeminent Christian culture commentators, spoke at Dallas Theological Seminary about the New Atheism, where it came from, and where it is headed. In his series of four lectures he outlines the history of atheism, the assault of New Atheism on theism and where things are headed. Any Christian who wants to know what the "spirit of the age" is needs to take the time to watch and really digest what Mohler presents here.

The New Atheism and the Endgame of Secularism

The New Atheism and the Assault on Theism

The New Atheism and the Defense of Theism

The New Atheism and the Future of Christianity

The rage of neoliberalism

This is not your hippie uncle's liberalism. It is angry, irrational, and increasingly violent in expression. Tolerance is only for ethnicity and gender identity, not ideology. Think long and hard about what is said here when you look to send your child to college.
"If you like conservatism you can certainly attend the University of Texas and you can walk past the statue of Jefferson Davis everyday on your way to class."....
"You think you're so [expletive] cute with your little column. I read your piece and all you want is attention. You're just like Bill O'Reilly. You just want to get up on your [expletive] soapbox and have people look at you." 
From the disgust with which she attacked me, you would have thought I had advocated Nazism. She quickly grew so emotional that she had to leave the room. But before she departed, she stood over me and screamed.
 Nearly all my professors are liberal. Isn't that a problem?

The intolerance of liberalism

"The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”
 A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

The idea that liberals should be tolerant of all other ideas is passé. What is the point of being tolerant of dangerous morons that are sinking society? Neoliberalism is not defined by tolerance, but by militant progressivism that demands others fall in line or be silenced.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


"God is dead" - Nietzsche
In my previous post I discussed the idea that there is one fundamental issue that mankind faces. I called it The Problem. Stated simply, The Problem comes down to this, who or what is your authority? For the Christian this is (or ought to be) the God of the Bible and the Bible as the actual word of God.  Romans 1:18-32 makes it clear that The Problem is not new and has always been The Problem. In fact Genesis 3:1-7 also shows that that has been the fundamental issue since the Garden of Eden and Satan's direct questioning of God's authority and honesty.

Today though The Problem is taking on a new tone. In the last two centuries we in Western culture have moved from a general belief in God to a general belief that it's possible not to believe in God and are now moving into a world where it is considered impossible to believe in God. Indeed within academic and other elite circles the idea of a belief in God is considered bizarre and dangerous.

With the rise of Nietzsche, Freud, Darwin, and Marx the Western world (and much of the rest of the world as well) has come to believe that God is not there at all and not necessary either. When these philosophies from these Four Horsemen of Atheism are blended together we end up with a new philosophy that has so infected our culture and so changed the world we live in that we as Christians are virtually unaware that not only has something changed, but that everything has changed. For a while the United States has been the last bastion of theism in the West, but that is coming to a very rapid end.

So what is the authority and view that is ruling the day and where is it headed? In a word the fundamental philosophy of today is Scientism. This is not a word that is often used on television or in the press, but it is everywhere in our culture. PBS actually has one of the best definitions of scientism from the program Faith and Reason. In fact, their definition puts it into the exact context in which we are concerned. It draws a sharp line between scientism and Protestant fundamentalism.

Unlike the use of the scientific method as only one mode of reaching knowledge, scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism's single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc [sic] worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.
Now, note what is being said here. The authority which is being appealed to is science and only science "as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth". Moreover the definition flatly states that Christians deny science. So what is the authority? Science. Who tells us what science says? Scientists. What are we to do with what they say? Follow along until they discover something better. Note too that the definition properly defines Scientism in terms that clearly indicate that it is philosophical and ultimately religious. 

Along with these claims comes a world view and it's a worldview we dare not miss. Within Scientism the only hope for mankind is scientific progress. Anything that stands in opposition to what the scientists say is therefore not only wrong (heresy) but dangerously wrong. To deny any point of Scientism is to deny science and is therefore irrational. This is why we hear so often that we Christians are part of a group that "rejects science". We are considered backwards, idiotic, and, particularly after 9/11, extremely dangerous.

For the adherent of Scientism any appeal to any authority other than science is totally and irredeemably idiotic. This is why the modern new atheists (such as Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.) are so vitriolically opposed to anything that disagrees with them. To them it is the height of stupidity to think anything other than what has been declared by "science" is true.

We'll unpack this more in upcoming posts, but for the moment there are a couple points I want to make. First, science cannot prove the claims of Scientism which are inherently based on materialism and naturalism. Science is a field of study designed to observe nature and the material world. Materialism and naturalism are philosophical claims that the material natural world is all there is. What is offered as proof? Science hasn't shown that there isn't anything other than the material natural world. Think about that for a moment. It is pure circular reasoning.

Second, Christians need to consider how much of Scientism we may have swallowed. The new atheists rightly ridicule "Christians" who argue that we can have Christ and evolution too. They lambast liberal theologians as intellectually dishonest hacks who know nothing about the Christianity they claim to follow. The is no longer room for religious tolerance because tolerating religion is, again, considered dangerous.

What about us though? Do we truly believe that the Word of God is the word of God? Do we truly believe that all of our hope is in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Or do we hold onto some idea that Jesus saves our souls but science is really what has the answers to the problems of the world? Does the Bible really properly define not only what we should do about people doing bad things, but also why people do bad things? Or do we believe that people do bad things and Freud has told us the real reason why people do bad things? Is morality defined by a Holy God or is it defined by the latest survey of what is "normal" within our society?

These are critical questions and they all come back to authority. What is your ultimate authority when it comes to truth? Science is a wonderful tool. In fact, it was a tool invented by people who believed in God and from that belief came to the conclusion that the world was orderly and knowable. However, science is not a tool that solves problems of the human heart, of the soul. It cannot do that any more than a screwdriver can be used to take an x-ray. It's not designed to do that.

However, in Scientism there is a growing belief that not only can it do that, but that it is doing that. Scientism holds that everything that we are is reducible to chemical interactions acting within a Darwinian framework. Every study about human behavior ends with a Darwinian just-so story about how the results of the story must have come about. What's concerning is that we as Christians find ourselves buying into the narrative even when that narrative is completely in contradiction to what the Bible has said.

The Bible states that God's word is Truth. Scientism claims that scientific conclusions are Truth (not just facts but Truth with a capital T meaning philosophical truth). These two views simply cannot coexist. Christians can and do use science all the time. However, Christians cannot buy into Scientism without throwing out the Bible and what it says.

The time is rapidly approaching when Christians will no longer have a choice to play both sides of the line. The new atheists will no longer allow that. In academic circles that time has already come and gone. In business it has also come and gone. All that is left is what you believe in your private world and how that might affect which candidate you pick in the voting booth. And it is exactly there that the Scientists find the most danger. It is in your private world that they believe you will halt the progress of humanity, destroy science, and condemn the world to a backward idiotic superstition. And they will simply not allow that.

This is not to say which candidate to pick. It is to say, you had better decide which authority you are picking right now because the stakes just got astronomically higher for Bible believing Christians in the United States. We are now the enemy and the opposition knows it and is determined to wipe it out. We have already seen how this has begun with attacks on Christians who hold to Biblical morality. It will only get worse and if we are not firm in our faith and ready for these attacks we are in danger of faltering when it most matters.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Problem

As Christians we are often confronted with problems. That's no surprise. Everyone is faced with problems whether they are atheists, pagans, or even moderately conscious. However, with Christians our problems are based upon not just any problem, but The Problem.

Not that The Problem is avoided by everyone else. They haven't avoided it. They have answered The Problem to their satisfaction and are comfortable with that answer. For them The Problem has been resolved and now all that is left are a number of smaller problems that need to be knocked over to make life problem free. But for the Christian, The Problem remains and it is The Problem around which Christianity itself revolves.

The Problem is this: What or who is your authority?

"Who or what is your authority?" is the real question behind the great philosophical questions of history such as, "What is truth?", "What is right?", and "What is wrong?", "Why am I here?", and "What shall I do?"

Think of it this way, everything starts with a fundamental fact upon which we hang every thought and interpret the universe around us. For example, for the atheist the fundamental "fact" is "there is no god" and so all of the universe is interpreted as a massive statistical anomaly. But where did that "fact" come from? Of course the atheist will argue that it came from reason, but that's a copout. Reason must be hung on something and ultimately that something has to stand on its own as an authoritative statement. In the case of atheism the fundamental statement is not "there is no god" but "materialism defines all there is" and it is from that statement that the atheist ultimately decides there is no god. Where did the idea come from that "materialism defines all there is"? For the modern atheist it is a philosophical statement that arose from the Enlightenment and philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche.

Think about how fundamentally important that question of authority is to the other basic questions of life. If men like Friedrich Nietzsche are our authority then "truth", "right", "wrong", and "meaning" take on a whole new definition and they fundamentally alter how we behave. In fact Nietzsche denied "truth" existed saying, "There are no facts, only interpretations." This relativism spread out into every part of life resulting in moral relativism.

So The Problem remains. Who or what is your authority? As I said, for the majority of the world their decision was fairly easily made. They decided that they were their own authority. They then found teachers that fit their beliefs and went on their merry way believing what they believe because they believe it and because somebody else told them what they thought sounded pretty good to them too.

Not so with Christians. Christians are fundamentally and uniquely confronted with The Problem every single moment of every single day. Why? Because, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, we are amphibious - with one foot in heaven and another on the earth. Paul addressed this when he wrote in Romans 7:14-25 about his struggle with his two natures. In one moment Paul found his flesh screaming that he was the authority in his life and in another his soul cried out that God was the authority.

And this really gets to the point of this post. Ultimately the most important question of life is not "What is truth?" or "What's my purpose?" but instead, "Who is your authority?" As Christians we claim that God is the ultimate authority in our lives, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of day to day living we are like Paul, caught in a constant struggle against our sinful desire to be little gods while our saved souls are crying out, "Abba, Father!"

As this blog develops I will often refer back to The Problem of who is our authority because that is really the most important place to begin when considering any question. It is that question that determines our starting point and ultimately predetermines where we end up. Will I live up to this goal? Probably not as well as I'd hope (after all, I'm human), but it's a worthy goal nonetheless.

For the moment though ask yourself honestly this one question, The Question, "Who or what is the ultimate authority in my life?" and realize that whatever your answer is it will influence every other thought and conclusion you come to. What's more, those thoughts and conclusions will only be as good as the authority you choose.

And don't forget, saying that God is our ultimate authority is not the same as making God our ultimate authority.

The Prophet's Prayer

Yes, I know this is Isaiah and not John,
but I'm fairly certain his prayers were
substantially the same! And I kinda like
this picture anyway. :-) 
This blog has an odd name. In fact, you may have come here expecting something very different. That's okay. This is a safe blog, I promise. The name Prophet's Prayer is drawn from the prophet John's words at the end of his Revelation. In Revelation 22:20 he gives words to the heart's cry of every Christian, "Come Lord Jesus!"

I have absolutely no idea which way this blog will go. I've owned the domain for years and it's been used off and on for a few different things. Right now though all I want to use it for is ministry. I hope and pray that a few people will come along with me on this journey. We live in interesting times and that is a good time for the Church - it's a time when we grow closer to the Lord and away from the World.

If you have thoughts or ideas feel free to contact me.