12/32 Task Force: Understanding the Times, Reaching America with Truth

Any strategy that God blesses begins with Jesus, is all about Jesus and ends with Jesus.

One of the most powerful prayers in Scripture is recorded by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21. I just have to post this prayer in its entirety. Yes, it is that good.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen”

What a prayer!

There is a huge difference between believing in Jesus and Jesus living his life through us. Many Christians do good things in the name of Jesus, but if we are going to reach America with Truth, people must see Christ at work in Christians.

There is a huge difference between “having a daily, morning devotional time” and “being rooted and established in love” , having “power, together with all the saints”,  grasping ” how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”, and  knowing his” love that surpasses knowledge.”

As the church, our goal is to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” so he can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Experiencing more than we can imagine can only happen “according to his power that is as work within us,” bringing glory to him in the church, throughout all generations, forever and ever!

Imagine being a part of a ministry that prepares Christians to be Jesus in the world, intentionally and strategically. Imagine God doing more through us than we can imagine!

This is the work of the 12/32 Task Force.

The first arena we need to address is prayer. Throughout history, all the great movements for God began with prayer — including the birth of the church in the book of Acts.

In Acts 1:14, the Scripture reads, “They all joined together constantly in prayer”.

I have always found it interesting that Jesus clearly told the disciples that they were to “go and make disciples of all nations”, (Matthew 28:19) but instructed them go back to the upper room and wait.  Why didn’t they divide the world into eleven slices and take off! Instead, they went back to the upper room and they prayed.

When God wants to do something greater than we can imagine, he does it through us. The key is that he does it and we are the instruments.

Let’s go back to the birth of the church.  All they did was pray and move as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts Chapter  two states that while they were together that, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” What seemed like tongues of fire separated and rested on each of them.  They “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Due to the festival of Pentecost, “…there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”

The same sound of violent wind that was heard by those in the upper room was also heard by the crowd outside. It was God, through the sound of the wind that brought people together — not a door-to-door evangelism campaign.

When the crowd heard this sound, they “…came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

It was then that Peter stood and addressed the crowd.

After Peter preached, some 3,000 people came to Christ and the church was born!

The significance of Pentecost is that God did it! All the people did was to follow the fire and the wind.

The formula for taking Christ to your community is no different than what was recorded in Acts chapter two. Here are the steps.

Step #1: Gather together for prayer, teaching, fellowship and such.

Step #2: Watch and wait for God to move.

Step #3: When God says move…MOVE!

Coming together in prayer is the first step in taking Christ to our communities and country. The question for us is — are we making plans to come together to pray?

Are we busily going about our business doing good things for God, or we waiting on him, watching what he is doing, in order that he may do great things — greater than we can imagine — through us!

Passion must lead to action! (Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post)

The response to my last post has been overwhelming.

The responses have been either ultra-positive or in complete disagreement. I figured as much. I do not claim to have all the answers, but isn’t it time to start thinking outside the box? Isn’t it time to start something new? Isn’t it time for action?

I attended an election night gathering this week. The restaurant was filled with passionate people who genuinely care for our community, here, in north Idaho. Locally, we had a great night. Conservative Christian candidates almost swept the local races. Those that lost did so by razor thin margins.

Two issues fueled the conservative surge — Obamacare and Common Core. Those who opposed these two issues won the day.

What cannot be overlooked is that this was a mid-term election and voter turnout was low. Honestly, we won in places that we shouldn’t have won. The time for action is now.

The action that needs to take place must first be deliberate and continuous.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that we should, “Be prepared in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Yes, I know that Paul is referring to the preaching of the Word in this passage. We need to expand our understanding of the preaching of the Word of God. Some are called to “pastor” a congregation. All of us are called to “preach” or “proclaim” the Word! And this means through every aspect of life, including politics.

Secondly, this action must be targeted and multifaceted.

Let’s put politics in its proper context. The answer to our American cultural dilemma is Jesus Christ. Folks, Jesus is the Truth. In John 14:6, Jesus is clearly quoted as saying, “I am the truth.” Notice that I am capitalizing “Truth.” This is because Truth is not a concept, Truth is a person and His name is Jesus Christ. The problem is that we are not proclaiming Truth outside the four walls of our churches.

Truth needs to be present in all facets of our culture.

  • We need to pray that Truth will rule in our communities and country.
  • We need to show the heart of Truth through service to our community.
  • We need Truth in the education of our children.
  • We need Truth in our business community.
  • We need Truth in the media and entertainment industry.
  • We need Truth in politics.
  • We need Truth taken to the world, near and far through mission efforts.

People are asking me, “Gary, are you starting a new church?” Here is my answer. At Reach America, we are not starting a “church”, per se, but we are looking for a group of Christians who want to “be the church” where we live. We are building a worshiping congregation of people who believe that they are called by God to take Truth to the arenas mentioned above.

We do not simply want to gather for worship. We want our worship, our Bible study and training to prepare us for continuous and meaningful action! We want our tithe, the first-fruits of our labor to fund and staff these areas.

To assist us in taking Truth into the public square, we are forming the 12/32 Task Force.

This group takes its name from 1 Chronicles 12:32. “…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…”

I can summarize our cultural condition in America in a quick sentence — The America culture is going down the toilet. How’s that for understanding the times?

What should Christians in America do about it? Interject Truth back into the public square, back into the following arenas with the follow strategy.

  • The arena of prayer. This is first and foremost. We must hear from God about the implementation of this strategy. You can do the right thing in the wrong way!
  • The arena of service. When we lead with service, we lead with our heart. We must learn to serve!
  • The arena of education. As far as a practical boots on the ground first step — we must help parents gain control of their children’s education. Strategically speaking, everything flows from here.
  • The arena of media and entertainment. Each day, we are becoming more of a visual and audio society. Unfortunately, people are no longer reading. We must saturate this arena with Truth.
  • The arena of business. We must turn the tide of the way we have come to view employment in this country. America was built for owners. We must empower people to see the vision God has given them and help them understand that God has given them this talent to take Truth into that particular field. We are ambassadors for Christ in all we do!
  • The arena of politics. We need Truth in government! Need I say more? We need every American Christian involved in this arena — not merely in voting, but in every aspect of the political system!
  • The arena of missions. God has blessed us as individuals and as a nation, to be a blessing to others. This was the view of our Founders. Truth needs to be taken across the world!

Each of these arenas needs a Team Leader and team members. The Team Leaders of each of these areas make up the 12/32 Task Force.

Currently, there are great Christians leading in these areas separately. It is my contention that these efforts need to be brought together under one body. The answer isn’t prayer-only. The answer isn’t politics-only. The answer isn’t missions-only.

We will win this cultural battle by saturating this entire movement in prayer and then in service to the community. The strategy begins by building the foundation for the education of our children. Once the underpinning elements of prayer, service and education are laid, we then begin to build the walls of media, business, politics and missions.

It is time to be deliberate…

It is time to be targeted…

It is time to come together…

It is time to turn our passion into action!

 

Stay tuned, we are just getting started!

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

I was born on July 3, 1959. At the time of this writing, I am 54 years old. Each day is becoming a little more precious to me. As I have pointed out in many past articles, America has come apart at her spiritual seam. I will admit, times are tough. I played varsity basketball in high school. One poster that was hung in our locker room read, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Let’s not give up on the country we all love. The going in America right now is tough. It is time for tough to get going!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Because he could not support the government takeover of the church, he became a part of what became known as the underground church.

Bonheoffer was eventually imprisoned and on April 9, 1945, he was executed.

The government takeover of the people of Germany, is similar to what we are facing today in America. Our government is slowly but surely encroaching on our freedoms — especially our religious freedoms. As I outlined in my recent series on “gay” marriage, biblical Christianity is under attack.

The only course of action for the Christians in early 20th century Germany was to retreat — to go underground. Hitler had become an immovable force. The Nazi party took over every aspect of German life, including the church.

This is not the case for Christians in America. To retreat now would be fatal for our country. On the contrary, for us, the answer is not retreat, but advance.

These are unprecedented times for the American Christian church. It is time for unprecedented action.

We need to become like the men of old, the men of Issachar. 1 Chronicles 12:32 reads, “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do — 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.”

The enemies of Israel had overrun Jerusalem and all the tribes came together to take the city back for God. The leaders of “David’s Mighty Men” were the men of the tribe of Issachar. The Scripture tells us that these guys were uniquely qualified to lead due to three traits.

  1. They understood the times.
  2. They knew what Israel should do.
  3. They had their relatives under their command.

Verse 38 gives us even more insight into this godly band of warriors. “All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.”

This battle is only going to be won by people fully determined, with one mind, willing to risk all they have.

I want to suggest a two-fold strategy for taking our communities and our country back for Christ. We are implementing these strategies where we live, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If you live in the north Idaho area, I want to invite you to join us. A meeting date will be announced, soon.  If you are interested in including your community in this strategy alongside us, please join in.

Strategy Point #1: Very soon, we are going to begin a weekly worship and Bible study event in Coeur d’Alene called Kootenai CARES or Cultural Awareness Readiness Engagement Strategies. It will be a service for the entire family. We are not starting a “church”, we are gathering with a group of families who want to be the church.

Strategy Point #2: We are creating what we call a 12/32 Task Force, named for 1 Chronicles 12:32. This active group will lead smaller teams. The important areas of our community we need to impact in order to re-establish our American Christian values are as follows:

  1. Prayer
  2. Community Service
  3. Education
  4. Business
  5. Politics

In my next few posts, I will break down each strategy point.

God bless you and thank you for taking your time to read these articles. Email me sometime and let me know what you believe God is telling you.

~Pastor Gary

Where Did the Effort to Take Christians and Religious Expression Out of the American Public Square Begin?

Together, We Can Make A Difference!

Where did the effort to take Christians and religious expression out of the American public square begin? How do we bring Christianity back? Is that even possible?

Exactly when the effort to take our nation away from Christianity began is debatable, but one significant place we can start is with the Supreme Court and their rulings in 1962 and 1963.

In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled prayer — even voluntary, student led prayer — was unconstitutional in our public schools. In 1963 the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional. By the way, the 1962 case was the infamous Engel vs Vitale case. A simple 22-word prayer, approved by the New York state board of education, was struck down by the Court. “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.”

Today, most people — Including some who say they are Christians — are convinced that the issue the Court was concerned with was coercion, since it involved a state-approved prayer. Folks, there was never any evidence of coercion proven in this case. The Court, on page 423 of the ruling, states, “The schools did not compel any pupil to join in the prayer over his or her parents’ objection.”

The Court continued on page 430 of their ruling that “prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State.”

The problem this Court had wasn’t state-mandated coercion, but the simple presence of prayer in the public school system. The Engel decision was an attack on any kind of prayer; even voluntary, student-led prayer.

Let’s move on to the 1963 case: Abington Township vs Schempp.

The state of Pennsylvania had a policy that each school day would be opened by the reading of the Bible. Like the previous case, participation was voluntary and student-led. There were to be no comments made or questions asked; only the reading of the Bible would be permitted. Again, coercion was never proven in this case. The Schempp’s children, Roger and Donna, testified they had never protested to their teachers concerning the practice.

The argument was made that the school setting is no place for religious activity. If these activities are to occur it should be in the home, church or private school. Justice Stewart, in his dissent, pointed out the constitutional fallacy of this argument. “Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion are available to all, not merely to those who can pay their own way.” Judge Stewart concluded, “A refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

Some may argue that in this ruling the Bible, itself, wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, just the reading of it in public. Without a doubt, in this case the Court struck down the official use of the Bible in public education.

These two rulings paved the way for future decisions like this one. In 1980, Stone vs Graham, the Court ruled it unconstitutional for students to view the Ten Commandments while at school. — In this case the Court ruled, “That if the 10 commandments were read in school…a student might feel inclined to follow them” — yeah, really.

The 1962 and 63 rulings opened the floodgates for secularists to make our public places — our schools, our colleges and universities, our government, even our businesses — religious expression-free zones. Unfortunately, many Christians have also taken this stance.

The first amendment no longer protects the right of free religious expression but is used to restrict it. It is now in vogue to ask us, Christians, to keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. We, Christians, are being told that that we have the right to express our beliefs — in our homes and places of worship.

It is time for action.

At Reach America, we are launching a two-part strategy to bring Christianity back into the public square. The strategies will begin locally, here, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Our goal is for other communities to join us.

In my next blog, I will outline the strategy.

At times, we all get discouraged — even I get discouraged. Now, however, is not the time to shrink back. We, at Reach America, still believe God can bring our nation back through us.

Do you believe? Will you join us?

We want to hear from you. My email is gary@letsreachamerica,org. Our phone number here is 208-966-4434.

If you are interested in joining the effort to take Christ to the public square, please contact us. Personally, I would love to talk to you.

Together, we can make a difference!

~Pastor Gary

Gay Marriage, Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) record Jesus as saying, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The power behind what Jesus said was in how Jesus served.

Without a doubt, Jesus’ words were powerful, but it was what he did that gave his words impact. Luke records in Luke 4:36, “All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’”

As I stated in “Rip Van Church”, Christians fell asleep at the switch and now we have awakened to find ourselves shoved out of the public square. As stated in Part Six, “A Little History Lesson”, the “gay” movement had its roots in the feminist, socialist movements of the 1930s through 50s and sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s. To pinpoint the watershed moment when our country began to rapidly move away from our Christian founding we need to look to the 1962 decision of the Supreme Court, ruling student-led prayer in public schools as unconstitutional. (This will be the topic of my next post.)

I believe we all agree that the sleeping giant, the church, needs to wake up and re-enter the public square. I want to begin a discussion on the most effective way to do so. I want to suggest a three-point strategy to bring back righteousness and save our communities.

Start, Serve, Stand

Start

We start with learning to C.A.R.E. for our communities again. We must become Culturally Aware and become Ready to Engage our community. Too many of us, Christian, have given up on our communities and we have begun to withdraw from the public square. I believe the scriptures are clear that we should be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) and that we should “occupy” (Luke 19:13) until he comes.

Why did God leave us here after we were saved? Think about it. There are only two things we can do on earth that we cannot do in heaven — sin and tell others about Jesus. Now, which one do you think He left us here to do?

Serve

We must re-enter society as a servant. Unlike when Jesus walked the earth, Christianity is not new. In the eyes of today’s world we are not only irrelevant but we read an ancient book that is no good for today and we claim to worship a God that no longer is necessary. In the minds of the majority of America, the advances of society and science have made faith in a “God” pointless.

It is into this new America that we are living and that we are called to reach.

In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus is recorded as saying this:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How we reenter the public square is important. I have been involved in the abstinence education movement since 1990, when Magic Johnson first announced to the world that he was HIV positive. I have been blessed to lead on every level of government in America. I have served locally, as well as the state and national levels.

From experience, I have learned that the old adage, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”, is true.

It seems that the only time Christians show up in the community is when we are against something. All people know about us is what we are against. When we lead with our service, people see our heart. When we lead with our mouth in a negative way, all people believe they see are our fangs. When we serve, we prove to those reasonable people where we live that we really don’t have fangs.

Stand

After we have shown that we care, we have earned the right to be heard. We need to be active in the community. We need to be active in county commissioner meetings, school board meetings, and city council meetings. We need to let our voices be heard in areas in which we agree and disagree.

Christians need to get involved in politics. Yes, I said “that” word — politics! Run for office, work for those Christians running for office. VOTE!

Get involved in local ministries that are making a difference. Programs like food banks, shelters and pregnancy centers need our help. Start a leadership program, like Reach America, where you live that is training up youth and their parents how to lead.

Jesus used the “salt” and “light” metaphors –mentioned earlier– in what we know as the “Sermon on the Mount”. Earlier in that sermon, Jesus lists the “beatitudes.”  I have always found it ironic that right after Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Yes, I believe that was intentional. This is the nature of righteousness spoken in the public square. To those who are willing to listen, righteousness brings peace. To those whose hearts are hardened, righteousness proclaimed in the public square brings persecution to the righteous.

Unfortunately, the fear of persecution is driving Christians out of the public square. The fear of turning people away from the gospel message of salvation is keeping Christians away from speaking in the public square.

Never does the Bible tell us not to speak righteousness, but it does tell how we should speak.

Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

We will always be vilified — count on it — but let’s be sure it is the Word of God that is offending, not the messenger.

This series has been one of the most challenging I have written. I hope it has been helpful to you.

In my next post I am going to examine the 1962 Supreme Court decision, ruling student-led prayer in public schools unconstitutional and the impact that ruling has had on our country.

Together, let’s re-enter the public square. Together, let’s start, serve and stand!

Gay Marriage Part 7: Rip Van Church

In the 1950s and 60s, when our American society was racing away from Christ and our American founding values, the church was silent. When the Courts were ruling against prayer (1962) and the Bible (1963), the church was silent.

With good intentions we sent our kids off to public schools, then to state and private colleges and universities, ignorant of the fact that many of the teachers/professors were guiding our children away from God and their parents.

As a nation, we have lost our way because:

  1. Overwhelmingly, Christians no longer care about America — maybe we never did.
  2. Doctrinally, we have come to embrace a theology where it is practically “unchristian” to care about our culture and our country.
  3. Instead of Christians shaping the culture, the culture has shaped those who call themselves Christians.

For whatever reason or reasons, America has lost her way because the church in America has lost her right to be heard.

For the purpose of this post I want share with you the condition of the church in America and how we got to where we are today.

I was born on July 3, 1959 — I know, I’m old.

I remember a time in America when the church and pastors were respected — even by those who weren’t Christians. I remember when businesses were closed on Sunday, in honor of the Lord’s Day. Any of you old fogies remember the old “Blue Laws”? I remember when community recreation departments would never schedule a game on Sunday or on Wednesday night.

Divorce was unheard of in my community. Every one of my friends had a mom and a dad — at home. Teachers were respected and discipline in our nation’s schools was the order of the day. Most, if not all, of my teachers were also Sunday school teachers at their church.

As Christians, we sat on our “blessed assurance”, and let our children and our country slip away. You know, like the frog in the kettle. You remember this one, don’t you? If you place a frog in a kettle of boiling water, he will quickly hop right out of it. However, if you place it in cool water and turn the temperature up slowly, the frog will sit there and boil to death.

Welcome to the New America.

It’s as if the church in America is Rip Van Winkle.

The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the time just prior to the American Revolution in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Rip is a fine man, liked by all, but unfortunately he had a knack for avoiding work. His wife was constantly nagging him about his chores. Eventually, his house and farm began to slip into disrepair.

Tired of his wife’s incessant complaints, Rip took off with his dog, Wolf, for greener pastures. He came upon a band of travelers who offered him some of their moonshine. Rip drank it and quickly fell asleep.

He awakens to discover many shocking changes. His musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Van Winkle returns to his village where he recognizes no one. He discovers that his wife has died and that his close friends have died in some war or moved away.

When Rip returns to his favorite drinking hole he discovers that the portrait of King George has been replaced with one of George Washington. After a fair amount of investigation, Van Winkle discovers that he had been asleep for 20 years. He slept through the American Revolution and awoke to find an entirely different world.

Rip Van Winkle was asleep for 20 years. To the best of my recollection, the church fell asleep some time during the late 1950s to early 60s and now we are waking up from a slumber of fifty-plus years to an America that is vastly different from the America we once knew.

The changes in our country have been vast and, frankly, too numerous to mention in this one blog post. We awaken from our slumber to find that society as we knew it in the early 60s has been redefined. As we wipe the crusty “sleep” from our eyes, we notice that is no longer Christ’s picture we see hanging in our local schools and court houses; it is Charles Darwin’s, Albert Einstein’s and Sigmund Freud’s.  Dad is no longer the bread-winner and mom is no longer at home to raise the kids. As a matter of fact, most children do not have a dad in the house, period. If there is a dad, he is most likely working hard to make the ends meet. Mom works, too. The government is now raising the children.

Our church houses are nearly empty and no one cares what we have to say any more.

When we fell asleep, it was Elvis who had left the building — now, it is God who has left the country. And we wonder why they are not heeding to the Word.

No one forced the church to fall into our 50-year stupor. We weren’t given cosmic sleeping pills. No one pushed us into the corner in which we now find ourselves.

What are we, as the Church, to do?  What do we do about what we know?

Next Post: Developing an Action Plan. Hint: We must learn to C.A.R.E.

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Three

Part Three: What is Epistemology and Why Should I Care?

Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on various topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. His blog post on epistemology is excellent. For the purpose of this post, I borrowed greatly from Dr. Lisle. I highly recommend that you subscribe to his blog at www.jasonlisle.com.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology helps us answer the question: how we know what we know.  When a person has a belief, it is reasonable to ask the person “how do you know this?” The way in which a person responds to this kind of question will reveal his or her original source or epistemology.

Everyone has an epistemology because everyone have some beliefs, and they have reasons for their beliefs. However, not all reasons are good reasons. If the reason isn’t very good, then there is a good chance that the belief is wrong.

Epistemology is very important if we want our beliefs to correspond to what is real — to truth.

I believe it is safe to assume that most people have not consciously reflected on their own epistemology.  According to Dr. Lisle, when we think about what we believe we know, we need to ask ourselves three questions.

  1. How do I ultimately know anything?
  2. What are the standards by which truth is determined?
  3. Are these standards biblical?

Before we continue with this discussion, you may be asking yourself this question: “Why should I be concerned with epistemology?  It is enough that I do know things?”

Our epistemology is crucially important because if it is wrong, then many of our beliefs derived from that faulty system will also likely be wrong.  In other words, if our epistemology is wrong, then we could be wrong about everything we think we know!

Biblical Epistemology/Worldview

Only a Biblical worldview makes it possible for us to answer our questions and have genuine knowledge.  This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

A Biblical worldview gives us rational justification for all the things that we rely upon in order to have knowledge. As I stated in the last post, human beings are made in the image of God.

Now, as Christians, let’s consider these additional facts.

God’s mind is perfect by His nature.  At salvation, God gave us — Christians — the ability to pattern our thoughts after His.  For our benefit, God has commanded us to pattern our thoughts after His, so that our thoughts will be truthful.

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 — please take the time to read these verses yourself — we read that God has given Christians two amazing gifts to enable us to discern the spiritual truth in all situations.

First, God has given us His secret wisdom. Vs. 9-10

However, as it is written: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Secondly, we have the mind of Christ. Vs. 16

“‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Friends, as with any issue or situation, the “gay” issues we face today can only be righty discerned by Christians accessing the secret wisdom of God through our right mind — the mind of Christ. This is accomplished by way of the only reliable record we have, the Bible.

The Failure of Secular Epistemologies

Dr. Lisle writes in his blog, “Non-Biblical worldviews makes knowledge impossible.”

That doesn’t mean that non-Christians can’t know anything.  Clearly they can.  But this is despite their worldview and not because of it. When you ask a non-Christian why they know what they know, it ultimately leads back to themselves as the basis of their knowledge.

Rationality

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a rational person and an irrational one? A rational person has a good reason for his or her beliefs.  An irrational person does not.

A Biblicalworldview allows us to have good reasons for our most basic beliefs. Apart from the Bible, any reason that we offer for any belief cannot be ultimately justified.

Folks, it would appear that there are only two options for a person to hold.  One can either be a consistent Christian, or one can be irrational.

Epistemology is important because we live in a post-Christian America. More than ever, it is essential that, as Christians, we ask ourselves these three question about what we, think we know. Then, we ask others.

  1. “How do we know what we know?”
  2. “What are the standards by which truth is determined?”
  3. “Are these standards biblical?”

In my next post, I am going to present a biblical epistemology/worldview of marriage.

Again, I want to express my thanks to Dr. Jason Lisle for his work on epistemology.

I sincerely hope this series is a blessing to you. I would love to know what you believe the Bible says. Got any stories or reports? Please share.

~Pastor Gary

Homosexual Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Two

This blog series is a Christian response to “gay” marriage and the same-sex issues we are facing. I hope this isn’t only a one-way conversation. In a real sense, this issue needs to be a discussion, not a proclamation from me, or anyone else. On some level, all of us are dealing with this issue — nationally, locally or personally.  You may be dealing with this issue at home within your family. You, yourself, may be struggling with same-sex tendencies.

Also, I realize that many people passionately oppose a biblical worldview. Several of those opposed have made their way into our Reach America web orbit. For those of you who choose to disagree, I ask that you listen. You are welcome to respond in the blog section of our website.

Let’s talk ground rules: This discussion needs to take place in the context of the essence of God’s nature and his message to us all, as described in the Bible, God’s Word, not our personal experience or current perceived reality.

The essence of God’s nature and message

First — God is love and God loves all people — regardless of their personal issues. The most quoted verse in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Love so much exemplifies the awesome nature of God that the Apostle John wraps up the essence of God in three short words, “God is love”. (1 John 4:8b)

This amazing three-word declaration is written in the context of John’s admonition to those who claim to know God — “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”.

Secondly — every person is a creation of God, made in his image. In Genesis 1:26-27, Moses writes, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Thirdly — God’s will is that none perish, but all people come to salvation in Christ. The Apostle Peter is clear in 2 Peter 3:9 when he says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [Italics mine]

Let me make three more biblical points as we lay out the ground rules of our discussion.

Ground rule #1: This discussion will take place within the context of the Word of God. We will agree with the Apostle Paul and his position concerning God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. Also, we will agree with the writer of Hebrews, placing our lives under the authority of God’s Word for life guidance. Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Ground Rule #2: Jesus, thus God’s Word, is truth. As we stated earlier, the Apostle John acknowledged that the essence of God’s nature is love. (1 John 4:8) If we are to be consistent in our biblical discussion, we must also believe the Apostle John’s description of the essence of the nature of Jesus Christ. John, who actually walked with Jesus for three years and was known as the “beloved” disciple, quotes Jesus. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6, Italics mine)

If we agree with John when he states that God is love, we must also agree with John that Jesus, thus God’s Word, is truth.

Ground Rule #3: We all must treat one another with the love of Christ, respecting one another. When we speak, we must do so full of grace and seasoned with salt, as Paul directs in Colossians 4:6. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I am looking forward to sharing with you as we begin this discussion.

FYI: unless you have been previously approved, your comment will be screened before it is posted.

God Bless!

Pastor Gary

How the Left Discredits Authentic Americanism – Part 2

In my last post I set the stage for a discussion on how the left discredits authentic Americanism.

On Thursday, January 23, I was invited to speak at a political gathering on the topic of winning the future through winning the next generation. Our local press showed up. When they printed the story of my speech, they were fairly — fair. It was the comments posted in the online version of the article that I would like to spend some time on today.

In no way do these comments personally offend me. This old bird has been around too long to let a few hot heads get under his skin. As a pastor, I have had an interesting journey. God’s path has taken me from the pulpit to halls of Congress and everywhere in between.

As I read the comments following the online version of the article, I was intrigued at the language the various bloggers were posting. The comments are very similar to what I have heard by liberals on every level of government.

I thought it would be educational for us review some of the comments made about my speech. I believe we can all learn from this exercise.

Before we begin I need to define “Americanism” or “American Exceptionalism.” After all, this is basically what they are all uptight about.

According to Merriam-Webster Americanism is:

  • 1. a characteristic feature of American English especially as contrasted with British English
  • 2.  An attachment or allegiance to the traditions, interests, or ideals of the United States
  • 3a. A custom or trait peculiar to America
  • 3b. The political principles and practices essential to American culture

American Exceptionalism as defined in The National Republican Platform:

“We are the party of peace through strength. Professing American exceptionalism – the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history…While the twentieth century was undeniably an American century – with strong leadership, adherence to the principles of freedom and democracy our Founders’ enshrined in our nation’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and a continued reliance on Divine Providence – the twenty-first century will be one of American greatness as well.”

Mike Huckabee said, “To deny American Exceptionalism is in essence to deny the heart and soul of this nation.”

In my speech, I made reference to American exceptionalism and the values that have made America a unique and great nation. I also mentioned how we need to create conservative communities in which to raise our children — and so forth.

As a pastor of 37 years, a national education consultant in public schools of 20 years and an advisor to the US Congress for nearly five years, I assure you, the comments I am about to share are being used against all who dare to proclaim that America is great because it was founded on Christian values and because we recognize the place of the Almighty as a nation.

Again, the link to the online article is http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_0231ef40-517e-511a-9103-f4c6a6493c87.html

Here are the comments:

“Screen Name” believes that conservatives embrace “slavery, no voting for women, child labor and debtors prisons” as American values

Miketeague states that Reach America…wants to indoctrinate 10 year olds to their way of thinking, what next, water boarding 11 year olds that don’t get the message? These far right wing pseudo religious groups are getting more blatant to their intent as each day goes by. By the way, the Thaw was looked into and found to be total bull. (Really?)

wwrd if by “Traditional” you mean no choice in anything then you are right.

DCIdaho accuses Reach America of child abuse and that we should be arrested.
This isn’t education…this is brainwashing for political agenda. Anyone doing this to children should be arrested for child abuse.

Those who oppose us for raising godly children and encouraging them to be engaged in the public square compared us to the Aryan Nations and said that churches cannot be political.

“LMYCDA” Students being persecuted for their beliefs. What a bunch of hogwash and propaganda. Sounds like the Aryan Nations folks. Hey, why don’t you just STICK with religion what you are being paid for and not paying any taxes for. Churches need to be taxed as they have become political!!!!

CaiusCosades: In other words “Brain wash our children to fit our selfish political agendas”. Idaho Republicans are so archaic! For any intelligent child that grows into an educated young adult that has been exposed to this type of brainwashing, they will see it for what it is and turn away from Conservatism. Then Idaho will be left with only the dumb Conservatives, which we already have way too many of!

Why Not: Gary Brown…is talking about controlling the thoughts of little Johnny and Jill with religious gibberish and neocon fantasy in public schools. Religion and conservative indoctrination in public school violates the constitutional rights of children. Schools are responsible for teaching, which by the way is hopelessly underfunded in Idaho. Teaching methods are changing and will hopefully adapt to individual needs faster than when my boys were in school.

Observations

I hope this exercise was helpful to you. Be prepared — any time you step into the public square, you can expect this treatment. Freedom of speech and religion are hallmarks of Americanism. Also is parental control of their children’s education.  However, apparently, Christians are not afforded the right to freedom of speech and religious expression. These belong inside the church, only.

Oh, and parents — if you choose to take control of your child’s education, you are brainwashing your children. If the kids do not comply with your Christian ideas, you water board them.

Their goal is simple — they want us to go away.

Want to know the sad thing? For the most part, going away is exactly what we are doing.

Well, not this guy. I refuse to sit idly by and let those who do not love God or our country call the shots.

Are you with me? If so, send me an email at gary@letsreachamerica.org. If you are in the northwest, come and see us. If you would prefer, call me at 208-966-4434.

If you are in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho area, I am speaking, Friday, February 7 at the Red Lion Hotel in Post Falls at 12:00, noon, for the Panhandle Pachyderms.  It is a lunch meeting. I would love to see you there. My topic is How to Win the Future through Winning the Next Generation, Part 2.

Let’s not back down. Together, let’s stand for Christ. Together, let’s Reach America!

How the Left Discredits Authentic Americanism – Part 1

Yesterday — Thursday, January 23 — I spoke at a local political meeting, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. My topic was “Winning the Future.” I spoke of how past strategies to rally young people to traditional Americanism are not working, today. Actually, this was just part one of a two-part speech.

In part one, I shared my insights about the postmodern views of 21st century teens and young adults.

A reporter from our local newspaper, the CDA Press, was in attendance. To provide you with the proper context, I have included the manuscript of my speech and the link to story written by the reporter.

I do not have a lot to say about the article. For the most part, the reporter simply reported what I said. It is the comments at the end of the piece that I want to call to your attention. Be assured — I am not, in the least, offended by the comments. My purpose in responding to them in a blog post is to help us understand how those who do not love God and America are trying to discredit those of us who do. And, by the way, their strategies are working — at least, up to now, they are working.

To get the whole picture, you need to know what I said and what the reporter wrote. Today, I am providing my manuscript and the link to the article. In my next post, I will analyze the comments. I realize this is kind-a long for a blog, but here is the manuscript.

And — don’t forget — this is only part one of the speech.

The link to the Cd’A Press article HERE.

The manuscript:

Winning the Future – Winning the Next Generation

It was eight years ago that I sat down with Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, in Washington, DC, to discuss reaching the next generation of conservatives. He had called me in to ask me about how to reach the next generation. He really didn’t like what I told him. Morton insisted that we begin with college-aged youth. I have great respect for Morton. Let me tell you a little about Morton.

  • Morton was the youngest Barry Goldwater delegate.
  • In 1980 he organized and oversaw the national youth effort for Ronald Reagan.
  • He served as Special Assistant to the President on President Reagan’s White House Staff from 1981-1984.
  • At the time of our visit in 2006 he had been working to reach college students for conservative causes for 41 years.
  • From 1965-1980, Morton’s strategy was tried and proved to work.
  • His strategy was to knock on college dorm room doors and ask students if they were conservative. If they said they we not conservative, he would thank them for their time and move on. If the student said they were conservative, he would invite them to a training event; there, he would train them in this method.

I told Morton that day that I felt we needed to get even younger. We needed to reach middle and high school students. That we needed to build relationships with them when they are young, not to recruit them, but to listen to them and help them to realize their importance.

  • The concept I had was to build conservative communities across America.
  • He disagreed, saying that was a waste of time. We don’t have enough time for that!
  • Listen my friends, it is no coincidence that our sitting president is a “community organizer.”

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Morton really wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say, he had heard that I was conducting youth leadership training events and wanted to recruit me to conduct his college training events.

We must reach young people, ages 10-19.

According to Forrester, a business technology and consumer strategist company, if a business is smart, they will start to gather data from middle and high school students, ages 12-17. Buying habits start young and those businesses who still want to be in the game 20 years from now better not ignore this important age group.

In a 2011 report, Forrester stated that only six percent of 12-17 year olds who use the web want to be friends with a brand on Facebook.

It would serve us well to understand the postmodern mind.

The following information is taken from my observations from working with teens for 37 years and a little help from some research by Purdue University.

  • Historians generally place the beginning of the postmodern era in America at 1945. The characteristics of this era are as follows.
  • There has been a breakdown of cultural forms. Everyone is coloring outside the lines.  Although the average teen is “retro” when it comes to fashion and style, they reject the grand narratives that have made America great. Youth reject that America was founded as a Christian nation, American exceptionalism, capitalism and free enterprise.
  • America is becoming an oral society. According to Purdue University, literacy rates had been rising steadily from the introduction of print through the modern period. Postmodern society has seen a drastic reversal in this trend as more and more people are now functionally illiterate, relying instead on an influx of oral media sources: tv, film, radio, etc…
  • This culture still very much relies on print to create media outlets; however, it is increasingly only a professional, well-educated class that has access to full print and computer literacy. An increasing percentage of the population merely ingests, orally, the media that is being produced.
  • Due to these factors, young people are visual and temporal. They have lost all connection to reality and history. This may help to explain why they are so fascinated with reality television. Pop culture keeps coming back to the idea that the line separating reality and representation has broken down. The movie, The Matrix, is a prime example of this.

Young people have a deep desire for individualism, yet they have a strange comfort level with collectivism and government. Capitalism and free enterprise is on the way out and the government as caretaker is in. Due to advancements in technology, especially surveillance technology, young people have the sense that they are always being watched. And who do they blame for this invasion of privacy? You guessed it, the government. I know, this is getting a bit convoluted, but hang in there with me.

Essentially, teens and young adults are looking to government to protect their individuality, and provide for their daily and life-long needs. They see capitalism as the embodiment of greed and they want nothing to do with it. Yes, Marxism is making a comeback.

Don’t get me wrong, they value individualism. It is the way it is being defined that is troubling. This generation wants the freedom to do whatever they want and to be whatever they want – individualism. They believe in a type of social justice where we all have the same things – collectivism.  Again, can you say “Marxism?”

In general, this generation is disoriented; there is no right and wrong. Truth is within you. Don’t judge me, and give me what I am entitled to have. Give me an education, health care, a job and a retirement plan. Take care of me and keep me happy from the cradle to grave.

Josh McDowell in his book, “The Disconnected Generation,” he created a list of terms and how they are defined by adults and by teens. Pay close attention to this list. “Folks, definitions of words are a-changin!”

Tolerance

Adult Understanding: Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.

Teen Understanding: Accepting that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles and truth claims are equal.

Respect

Adult Understanding: Giving due consideration to others.

Teen Understanding: Wholeheartedly approving of other’s beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Acceptance

Adult Understanding: Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say and do.

Teen Understanding: Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Moral Judgments

Adult Understanding: Certain things are morally right and wrong, as determined by God.

Teen Understanding: We have no right to judge another person’s view or behavior.

Personal Preference

Adult Understanding: Preferences of color, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.

Teen Understanding: Preferences of sexual behaviors, value systems and beliefs are personally determined.

Personal Rights

Adult Understanding: Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.

Teen Understanding: Everyone has the right to do what they believe is right for them.

Freedom

Adult Understanding: Being free to do what you ought to do.

Teen Understanding: Being free to do everything you want to do.

Truth

Adult Understanding: An absolute standard of right and wrong.

Teen Understanding: Whatever is right for you.

Thanks for hanging around long enough to read all this. My next blog is coming very soon.

God Bless!

~Pastor Gary