Tag Archive: Culture

The chaplain turned to his regional director and asked him to pray.  He asked him to pray for Jesus to address his pride.  After all these years it was not so much killing him but ,rather, taking away from the calling to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. 

It started a long time ago.  His dad was a good dad, but he was very close-lipped.  It was hard to get dad’s approval.  It wasn’t like his dad-bad mouthed him.  He simply did not say much.  Only later in life did the hungry chaplain realize it was his dad’s personality.  However, it left its scar on his psyche.  He was going to prove his worth.

Before the gentleman became a minister and eventually a chaplain, he was an educator.  Smart and driven most people would say.  With a Master’s Degree in Educational Management and Supervision, the young man would be on the fast track to an administrative position.  That would prove his worth to the world.  

Only things didn’t pan out that way.  The fast track became the slow track, and, with his second child on the way, he had to make some money.  

Making a long story as short as possible, his dad had a chance to purchase his franchise.  Only he needed someone to make the short-term a long-term opportunity.  So, off to business the educator went.  

He took over the business after a few years and took the company over the 1.2 million mark in gross sales.  With an emphasis on quality in the mechanics shop and expanding the “in-house” accounts, the business took off.  This had to declare his value to the world, especially his family.  That was until the United States decided to invade Iraq, and the downturn in business began a spiral that was hard to come out of.  

When a business goes into a downward trend, it tends to take small problems and turn them into big if not huge problems.  It’s sort of like a football team that is riding the arm of a great quarterback only to have him go down due to injury.  The glaring gaps at defense get wider.  The lack of a running game goes deeper.  Things can come apart.  For the successful young man they did.  His “legacy” was going in the wrong direction. 

There is an amazing element of belief in Jesus Christ.  It’s the truth that the Good Shepherd always looks out for his sheep.  The Bible says that when one of those sheep gets lost, the Good Shepherd will go and find him and bring him home.  Let’s just say the young man, who was now moving into middle age, was lost.  His life, career, and home, were not going well.  Every decision he made seemed to be wrong.  Here he was, trying to please everybody except Jesus.  Oh, he attached him to things to make it look like it, but he knew.  He knew. 

Eventually, after a few years of misery, the educator-turned-businessman left to answer the call to serve the Lord Jesus in ministry.  It started in youth ministry, rebuilding a fractured youth group at his home church.  From there he started a college ministry.  Things seemed to be back on track.  That was until his church began to have it’s own problems.  Churches that wait till there are problems to make tough decisions seldom make good decisions.  Let’s just say it was time to go.

So, off to South Carolina he went.  It didn’t start well at all.  Within 6 months of arriving, the ministry plans were in total chaos.  Sitting in a local restaurant with his wife, he and she tearfully and fearfully considered heading back north to the safety net of family and familiarity.  Only, they never made it back there.  Why?  The Good Shepherd had other plans.

Over the next 15 years, the young man had now entered his senior years.  The ministry in South Carolina had seen it’s ups and downs.  Overall, there were no complaints.  Nobody promised an easy path.  The Scriptures talk about a narrow road being one that leads to life.  Narrow roads can be hard to stay on.  

The minister became a police chaplain.  Then a fire department chaplain.  Here he was now at a training conference as a part-time workplace chaplain.  God works in weird ways and at weird times.  The trainer asked, “Why are you a chaplain?”  Living in the Christian world, we can come up with Christian answers that hide the truth.  We learn the system.  

But this time, the question sank deep.  It touched his soul in ways his soul had not been in a long time.  It went beyond being a chaplain.  He quickly turned the question into “Why are you in ministry at all?”  He knew it at that minute.

There are brief moments when we can see clearly in a fallen world.  Most times we live in a fog hoping it lifts soon.  The moment the question left the speakers lips, he knew the answer.  He was still trying to prove his worth.  It was long overdue to end the charade and get rid of the pride that kept his own heart captive.  

Turning to his director, he asked for prayer about his pride.  The prayer nailed it home.  Somehow, Jesus put on the director’s his lips what the chaplain had a hard time giving up.  His thirst for recognition, mixed with his pride was finally at the foot of the cross.  

As I said “Amen” after his prayer, I now can say, “I am a minister and a chaplain to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”  I will be reminded tomorrow morning to leave my thirst and my desires with my Good Shepherd once again.  It is in these moments I am free.  Will you join me? 

Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are burdened and heavy hearted and I will give you rest.”  I was tired as I know so many around me are as well.  There is only one place to find rest.  His name is Jesus.  

As I walked the dog this morning, I realized it was trash day.  Even if I were blind, I would know it was trash day.  The smell was obvious.  Did you know there is a local company that will contract with you to clean your trashcan?  You heard it here first.  If you keep your trashcan in the garage, you might want to give them a call.  

As we walked, it was interesting to observe the trash.  Before you laugh too hard, remember my brain is not wired in the normal way.  Usually I talk with Jesus as I walk the dog at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m.  Today, trash had my attention.  You can learn a lot about people by looking at their trash.  It makes sense that law enforcement looks into the trash.  It’s loaded.  Literally.  Is this making you paranoid?  I hope not.

As I observed the rubbish in my neighborhood, I can tell you who has a healthy, or should I say unhealthy, intake of alcohol.  I can find the smokers.  If we pause long enough, we can tell diets and other habits as well.  It is getting easier to tell the choice of soap or shampoo as well.  It’s not buried in the bags.  The plastic bottles are sitting on top in the recycle bin.  

If the average home has 1.5 bags of trash per person per week (I read that somewhere; just don’t ask where), it would be easy to figure out how many people are living in each house.  Some of the cans are so full each week, forget getting the lid down.  

One thing for sure is we create a lot of garbage.  It is hard to fathom the amount of garbage the entire town of Bluffton creates in one week.  I’m just talking normal bags of trash. Oh, by the way, if I was a thief, I would be able to pinpoint the homes that have new televisions, computers, and sound systems.  Add the “extra” garbage, and our little town creates mountains of trash.  

The Bible talks trash.  It really does.  I feel bad for most of the Bible heroes.  Their trash is out there for generations to observe.  It smells bad too.  Adam and Eve get slammed for being the founding couple for the ultimate trash.  They had to feel horrible as they were escorted out of the garden into a world defined by its smelly refuse.  

David had plenty of family filth.  How would you like to be known as the man after God’s own heart, who first pursued another man’s wife and had him killed?  We will give him credit for killing Goliath, but, then again, as a father, his family comes completely apart.  David is just one of the many men and women whose rubbish defined them.  

I don’t need to go through the list.  It’s pretty ugly.  I realized the other day as I was preparing the topic for our new Saturday night “Come As You Are” service that every person in the Bible that Jesus engages is a representation of me (all of us actually) at many levels.  I’m a leper.  I’m the adulterous woman.  I’m a Pharisee.  I’m the blind guy.  I’m the paralyzed man who needed friends in order to be touched by Jesus.  Every person is a representation of humanity.  The worst one to be is the rich man who wouldn’t sell his possessions to follow Jesus.  I’m him at times.  What makes that one so hard is Jesus said that we can’t serve two masters.  His word use hits this world hard, when he says we love the one and hate the other.  The other night as I conversed with some faithful friends, one of the guys said he hates it when he is hostile towards Jesus.  My first response was “I’m not hostile towards God.  How can he say that?”  But I am hostile at God when I choose to serve this world.  My trash is stinking bad.  

I had to sort out my hostility for a few days.  Makes trash day look good ,doesn’t it?  Just like our physical life, we all have trash.  It’s funny, actually, that we show up on Sunday acting like we don’t have any.  I don’t know about you, but my trash-can tends to be full and overflowing, and boy does it smell.  That company would have to come to my life every day to clean my can it’s so stinky.  

I am reminded that my cleaner does come every day.  In fact, he never leaves me.  Jesus doesn’t look at my trash.  He’s already taken care of it.  I used to wonder why he asked us to confess our sins when he already knows.  It’s not for him.  It’s for us.  It reminds us how amazing his grace really is.  That’s my hope.  That’s my faith that gives me great confidence that no matter how full and stinky my trash can, my Lord Jesus has it covered.  I love the old hymn when it says, “What can wash away my sins?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  He doesn’t clean my outward container.  He covers my wicked heart.  No need to recycle.  It’s been taken care of.

Even though it is the middle of summer and we have many more days to go till fall, there is change in the air.  The change has nothing to do with nature’s seasons.  The change is for the modern day church ,and it has nothing to do with the type of music sung or which version of the Bible is used on Sunday.  Its cultural change, and it’s coming fast.

Unless you have paid no attention to the news and live in a cave, we should be aware that our culture is not changing but rather has changed.  News flash!  There is more change in the air, and we are not going to like it.  

It is a fact that the voting base will shift to the younger generations in the next election. The baby boomer generation, which is the most conservative and “Christian” of the existing generations, will lose its political clout.  Let me rephrase that.  It has lost it.  There are more people of age that we would classify as “millennial” who can vote than baby-boomers.  As the Eagles sang in 2007, “It’s Your World Now.”  Honestly, we of the baby-boomer generation don’t like it and are scared about it.  

I’m not so sure we are scared for gospel reasons.  I personally think we are scared for life-style reasons.  That’s a discussion for another day.  It will probably have gospel implications.  I’m not being a prophet, but these are some changes in the next era we will probably see, barring a revival unparalleled in our history.  Again, I don’t think they are all that bad.  It all depends on how one looks at them.

One of the first changes coming will be the loss of tax exempt status and possible taxation on certain things we never dreamed would be taxed in the church.  It doesn’t even have to be due to religious reasons.  Our government is running out of money.  If there is a pot of gold out there somewhere, they will get it one day.  It has already happened to a certain extent.  By raising the exemption level so high, fewer “givers” are able to claim their gifts and tithes as a tax exemption.  It’s only the beginning.  

As I said before, that’s ok.  We will be called to give our gifts and tithes by God’s calling not the tax deduction.  If the government taxes our properties for the right of holding religious services, then we will find out where our hearts lie.  That happens often throughout the Bible.  Look up the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.  Their heart was not with God but rather how they looked before man.  Everything really is a heart issue even if we don’t realize it.  Giving our offering is a heart issues as well even when we don’t get a tax deduction.    

I do believe a day is coming when bi-vocational pastors will be the norm instead of the oddity.  Most churches in America are small in size.  There are more pastors serving in churches under 200 than in those over 200 in attendance.  With the financial situation and the already aging of American congregations, along with the decrease in attendance by the younger generations, there will be fewer and fewer churches able to support the pastor much less have a paid staff.  If these churches want to continue, they will have to sort out the issues that will arise with a bi-vocational pastor in place.

Again, that’s ok.  I see two possible benefits.  Pastors might make better decisions since their main pay check is no longer dependent on keeping the members happy.  Along with that, members may realize they cannot replace the pastor they have so easily and therefore extend grace more than ever before.  

Along with bi-vocational pastors comes churches with less or no paid professional staff.  The burden of ministry will fall to the attenders.  Did I just hear local pastors say “Amen.”  All of this will probably put many things back in their right place.  Instead of putting on a show, we might just relate to one another.  Instead of depending on the youth pastor to show our kids the way, they will have to get it from us (of course they still do, we just don’t realize it).  Instead of being a busy church, we might become missional churches.  Paying less staff leaves more money for “the thirsty, the hungry, the naked, the sick, the stranger, the imprisoned.”  (Matthew 25).  See, it’s not all that bad.

The biggest change ahead is already happening.  It is not going to be popular to be a Christian ,much less a verbal Christian.  The shift has happened.  It happened when Generations X and Y (by the way, they are close to retirement now) walked out of the church instead of staying with their spiritual family.  Their children are growing up with very little God influence.  Therefore, it’s simple math.  It’s a spiritual war.  The apostle Paul said we are “wresting with principalities of the air,” meaning there is a constant war against the name of Jesus.  It’s coming fast.

That’s ok.  We don’t have to pay large sums of money to go on mission trips.  Our mission field lives right next door.  It is a great time to be a Christian when the lines get drawn.  It might hurt.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians about two graces given to us by Jesus.  One is the grace of salvation.  The second is the grace of suffering.  We all are aware that if something has great value we will suffer for it.  As far as I can tell, there is nothing more valuable than the name of Jesus.  

That is OK! 

A friend of mine ran upon some hard luck lately.  It wasn’t like it was the end of the world.  Things just didn’t go his way.  There were no emergencies.  No hospital stays.  No doctor’s diagnosis.  No family issues.  In other words, the little things in life filled his mind and soul like sand does when we go to the beach.  So, what did he do?  He made a rash decision and ran away.  Literally.  

A few days after he got in his car and left. I was able to get a-hold of him.  “Worst decision I have ever made in my life,” he grumbled.  In my earlier days, I would have replied, “No kidding, Sherlock!” But I didn’t.  I held my sometimes sharp tongue.  Instead, I asked him to come home.  It wasn’t too late.  It might cost him, but he would survive.  After a quick deflection, he indicated he would have to live with his decision.  As we closed, I sullenly said, “I hope you find what you are looking for.”  He hung up the phone.

Lately, I have had several people awaken to what seems to be the path to implosion.  That topic seems to be gaining momentum.  Just this morning I was talking with a young lady who suddenly wanted to talk about some books she has been reading.  The topic…accepting your life as it is instead of getting in the rush to make something it cannot be.  Eventually, we run out of energy and time, and, if our life is not what we or others expect it to be, we…implode.  Our whole society seems to be searching for something it cannot find.

I have often made mention of the suicide and opioid death rates, especially among the Millennials.  We point at that group, but the numbers are increasing among every generation.  Last week, I was engaged with several late-age opioid addicts.  Their stories were somewhat similar.  They liked the feeling of not having to deal with the discouragements in life.   

As technology exposes us to more and more, our lust seems to be increasing at a parallel rate.  Unfortunately, our quest for finding the life we think we want and the one we think we deserve is costing us.  It’s costing us valuable relationships (real or perceived).  

When we are searching for something more than a life with Jesus as our guide, it tends to distort our life view.  Take my friend.  He talked about the lack of friends and how all he has is his dog and cat but I’m not sure anyone can count on a cat as a friend.  Sorry, cats own us; we don’t own them.)  

The reality is my friend had numerous friends.  Only they did not give him what he was looking for.  Honestly, after knowing him for about 10 years ,I don’t know what he is looking for.  The crazy thing is ,I’m not sure he knows either.  It’s not just him.  

About everybody I counsel has no idea where they want to be in the future and no idea how to get there.  They are just trying to survive the day.  Only, if they are in my office, they aren’t surviving the day.  They all talk about a yearning for something more and yet, they all have so much at their fingertips.

Our world is oversaturated.  How many television channels do we really need?  Google something.  Anything.  Take a look at the pages and pages of listings for anything you want information about.  Which one is worth our time?  Which one is what we are looking for?  Don’t think we are oversaturated?  Check out Youtube.  

At the end of the day we are all looking for what was lost in Eden.  Our ability to be in a complete relationship with God, man, and earth was wiped out by one selfish decision.  We have not been satisfied since.  It is costing us more than we can imagine.  It did then and it is now.  Adam and Eve’s son Cain killed his brother.  Over what?  His quest to be satisfied.  Not far from his parents who wanted to be satisfied with one piece of fruit.  

People often ask me why I believe in Jesus.  It’s easy.  In Jesus, I find the only person, and yes, I said it right, person, in whom I can come home.  When I am home, I find what the angels proclaimed at his birth, “Peace on earth.”  I will venture out on another quest, but, without fail, he comes and finds me and welcomes me home every time.  I know one day my quest will be over when I’m no longer bound by this world.  In the meantime, my hope is in Jesus.  Why?  Nothing else can satisfy. Ask Bono of U2.  They sang truthfully, “And I still haven’t found what I’m lookin for.”  Just ask my friend.  If you can find him.

A member of our church recently asked me to get rid of the squirrels that roam around on Sunday morning.  The look on my face must have given away my confusion, as he began to get a big grin on his face.  He told me they come out every Sunday when the preacher begins his sermon, and all he can do is follow the critters up and down the tree.  

It’s been that kind of week. Maybe it’s been that kind of month.   The squirrels are winning.  Often when there is a lot of confusion, it leaves us exhausted.  There is another effect as well that few of us acknowledge.  Confusion paralyzes.  It not only takes our attention away from important people and issues, it leaves us dead in our tracks.  We don’t live in a vacuum.  When two forces are working against each other, it’s like a tug-of-war; it doesn’t move anyone very far in either direction.  

It’s been that kind of season.  Recently I told a friend it will be the first year in over 25 years that I will not be playing fantasy baseball.  He was surprised.  I love baseball.  I love competition.  However, I have become disconnected from the game and don’t really know the teams or the players anymore.  Not only are there squirrels in my life, I feel I am slowly getting disconnected from the world around me.  Tug-of-wars and squirrels are paralyzing.  

It’s hard to tell what’s important in all the mess.  That is another one of those other issues of a world gone nuts.  I personally love our modern technology.  However, one thing it has done is put more squirrels in my life.  Most of those long tailed creatures do not improve my life at all.  They take a valuable commodity with them.  They take time.

Recently, I went to a seminar on stress.  I learned a lot from it.  The teacher talked about his stress issues.  He realized he needed to purposely take some things out of his life to lower his stress levels.  So, he has divorced himself from the news media.  He removed all news apps from his phone and does not watch the news at night.  He talked about how it allowed him time to get his priorities in better order.  He talked about being calmer.  His PTSD condition has improved greatly.  He eliminated the ever intake of information that is totally out of his control.  He not only lowered his stress levels.  He gained time back.  

You know what happens when we purposely eliminate useless elements of our lives that have sucked us dry?  We gain time.  That time allows us to get perspective back.  It allows us to see the squirrels that are running around gaining our attention and pulling us away from the important things like God, spouse, family, and our neighbors.  

I saw a report that volunteerism is decreasing across America.  Some of it could be the aging church population.  However, much has to do with the ever-increasing squeeze in our lives.  I don’t think I have met one couple under 50 lately that feels they have things under control.  Most are trying to survive the work climate that changed in the early 2000’s where, due to technology less people are expected to do more work.

I ran into a truck mechanic the other day whose boss has instituted a time management system that makes him accountable for every minute of his work day.  There is no time to take a bathroom break or simply pause to have a conversation with his fellow mechanics.  Got to make that buck!  If he misses his times too often he has to write a report explaining his failure to meet time demands and/or run the risk of losing his job.  He has become so task conscience he told me he feels he is on the verge of anxiety attacks.  He also talked about losing touch with his fellow employees in the shop.  The squeeze is on.  Did I mention they used to have 4 mechanics in their shop?  Now they are down to 2.  More work.  Less people.  Make the bucks for someone else.  Have no personal life.

The big squeeze is on.  I am concerned.  Eventually it all has to implode.  There are only so many hours in a day.  An individual can only pay attention to so much, and the much is increasing daily.  And we as church leaders wonder why younger generations come into the building (if you are lucky) and hope they can get out without feeling guilty about not volunteering.  

Keep everybody doing something.  Throw more squirrels out there.  Confuse the masses.  Get them either disconnected from the important things or so grossly over stimulated they have no idea what is important.  Paul, the apostle, talked about this when he warned us of the philosophies of the world.  One of the biggest false philosophies is that our worth and greatness are wrapped up in our business.  

It is that kind of season.  We as believers in Christ may have to be very conscious of this cultural phenomenon.  We may have to purpose to take a few steps backwards.  Jesus often said, “Peace, be still.”  Purposing to bring stillness and peace to our lives limits the squirrels, and it gives us a chance to wade through the confusion. 

Sometime I wonder what God thinks?  I know that is quite impossible to figure out what God is thinking.  Isaiah told us His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We are so limited.  However, as my mind wanders the far spaces of time I wonder what God thinks about technology, the current state of the church, my thoughts (how few there are at times), our culture, as well as our lack of culture.  The list could go on.  Maybe I’m going crazy.  

Have you ever wondered what God thinks about the Internet?  It can be such a wonderful means of communication and information processing.  On the other hand, it can lead us down a dark, dark path.  The ability to read this article as a blog post allows readers to never have to go out and get the newspaper in their bare feet.  Amazing if you think about it.  My guess is God gave us the ability to create it.  It remains the heart of the user that is the issue.  

I wonder what God thinks about air conditioning and garage door openers.  Yup, I’m really losing it now.  Before these great technological advances, we sat on the porch in the cool of the evening or left the widows wide open for a little breeze.  Once the night air began to change, the window fan sucked all the fresh air through the house.  In the process, during the open window age, we heard our neighbors.  We spoke with our neighbors.  We knew our neighbors and, probably, a little more than we liked.  Once the air conditioner came along, we no longer heard our neighbors and don’t talk with them either. 

The garage door opener allows us to get in and out of our car without going outside. Actually  I’m not sure that is possible here in the Lowcountry.  Garages have become our basements.  The cars are outside.  But, you get the point.  Our castle became a little more secure and if we want to, we can isolate ourselves a little bit more.  I wonder what God thinks about our isolation from a real neighbor but our tendency to allow a stranger to greatly influence our lives through a computer screen.  My guess is that, it remains the heart of the user once again.  If we care for our neighbor, AC and garage door openers will not separate us.

I wonder that God thinks about our relativistic, consumer driven, critical, narcissistic culture. That one isn’t too hard.  We like to think our culture is unique to Americans and our current place in history.  Wrong!  King Solomon, in all his wisdom, said, “there is nothing new under the sun.”  He was correct.  In the book of Judges it says, “Man did what was right in the sight of his own eyes.”  That fits relativism and the narcissism running the day.  All we did was label things.  Man has always wanted to be God.  That’s the curse.  We should be an extremely thankful people since God loves his man creation and set forth to redeem us.  His thoughts are wrapped in his love and grace.  

So, last of all, I wonder what God thinks about the current state of the church.  There will be many disagreements on this one I’m sure.  When over 50% of American churches hold to some form of health and wealth, prosperity teaching, the state of the church is far from healthy.  When pastors’ and priests’ evil sexual issues are brought to light, the church has serious issues.  It has been said that once the church responds poorly to a major cultural issue, such as sex abuse and harassment, the church has lost it’s ability to be heard due to its image being tarnished.  To quote a famous line, “Houston, we have a problem.”  Actually Apollo 13 had a huge problem.  It was only by the grace of God and men and women who worked overtime that it made it back.  

That is our hope as well.   The hope is not just to survive.  The hope is to see Christ in all His splendor and love.  The hope is to humbly love and express the grace of God to others beyond our computers, air conditioning, garage doors, self-consumed thinking and sin.  That is our hope in Christ.  It’s not what church we go to on Sunday morning.  It’s how we live the rest of the time.  That defines our heart.  It remains the heart of each person that consumes the thoughts of God. 

I was working on a lesson the other day.  While researching, I discovered a reference from ancient Rome.  It was from one of the ruling party, commenting about the plague that was running through the city.  He commented about a people group that, instead of running away from those with the deadly illness ran to them.  He was amazed.  Those people were the Christians.  They were not afraid.  Their destiny was in the hands of the God they believed in.  

This past week was a troublesome week.  Four different instances of people in pain.  The pain was the plague of sex abuse.  I have to admit I often thought the numbers were not accurate.  The longer I’m in the counseling world I now feel those numbers are not high enough.

In each case the abuse came from family members.  Each family member was a member of the same church.  They were calling, seeking advice.  One case was extremely recent.  Another was 20 some years ago.  The plague affects people of all ages, both sexes, all races and socio-economic standings.  

In each case, some level of pornography usage is also evident.  The plague is here in full swing.  I don’t blame the many women who have joined the #MeToo movement.  What I don’t quite understand is why the Christian community is not engaging it.  A pastor friend of mine once preached that 75% of all the men in the congregation have an issue with pornography.  He followed that statement saying, “The other 25% are lying.”  Jesus said we as men have issues with adultery.  If we have eyes, we have a problem.  Ladies are not exempt.  A lady teacher once told me a woman’s desire is to be desired.  Just like the plague…the germ is always around.  

But we don’t talk about it.  Somehow it has become taboo to talk about sex, adultery, and lust.  Are they sensitive subjects?  They sure are, and yet, they affect the foundation of future families.  Sexual sin is not a victimless sin.  Often its impact is felt years later.  

We have this plague slowly killing our families and, literally people, and we are running away instead of to it.  When is the last time anyone heard a sermon on pornography?  Why hasn’t the church rallied to demand our lawmakers do something about the ease of viewing porn by minors on the Internet?  Why is there free porn at all?  When is the last time anyone heard a sermon on I Timothy 5:2?  Do we teach it to our youth, or are we too busy playing games?

Remember, the purity of marriage is very important to the Lord.  It is the only institution founded on the principles of Jesus and his church.  

So, what is I Timothy 5:2?  The Apostle Paul said, “Treat…older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”  We did not start the #MeToo movement; Paul did.  It lost its effect when we demanded 20 minute happy sermons and did not want to hear God’s instruction of great grace.  Grace calls us to purity.  Purity founded in the Pure One, Jesus.  Yes, we have issues, and so did many of the Biblical heroes.  

Nehemiah was upset the walls of Jerusalem were broken.  After he wept and mourned, he prayed for God to help him respond.  The walls of our churches and homes are broken.  The sexual revolution of the 60’s has morphed into the sexual disaster, and truth is hard to find, even in sexual identity.  Churches have caved in the name of “grace” accepting sexual behavior that is far from pure.  We forgot that grace is founded in truth and calls us to purity, as Jesus told the prostitute “…sin no more.”  In other words, with Jesus, she did not need to be the prostitute anymore.  Her identity was in Christ, not her or men. 

Porn and sexual sins are a leading characteristic of a culture that loses respect for life.  Once respect for others is lost, the only direction a culture goes is down and out.  The church must run to this plague for the future of our families and the gospel.  Talk to your kids about it.  Don’t be afraid; be honest.  Develop accountability with the Internet.  Confess your own sins, and together in prayer, seek the Lord in your sexual being.  It’s important to him.  He made us in His image.  

As the plane was preparing to land, the pilot came on the audio system to inform the passengers that an earthquake had set off a tsunami. The northern coast of Australia was on full alert. The joyous passengers suddenly became quiet. It wouldn’t take too long until we landed and faced the devastation and death that quickly followed just to the north of us. Our trip took on a new dimension.
We made our way to Darwin from Sydney. The sleepy coastal town suddenly became the center of the Australian relief effort. As supplies went out survivors came in. Restaurants became places where many would sit and listen for hours to the first hand accounts.
Heads would shake. Hands trembled. Tears would flow. Drinks would be passed around. In our lifetime we had never seen nor heard of a tsunami. Christmas went from a time of great celebration to sudden dread and disaster. Over 225,000 people lost their lives that day. It will be a Christmas I won’t forget. We had flown into Sydney to study the biomes of Australia on Christmas Day and ended up with a unique view of the fragility of life.
Some told stories about the ocean retreating before the first wave struck. Nobody was thinking tsunami. There was a total lack of knowledge and understanding. Instead of running the opposite way many were walking far out, picking up shark’s teeth and amazing sea shells. Minutes later their lives would be on the line. Others reported that the death toll did not accelerate upward as the water drove inland. More lives were lost as the water raced back to the ocean. Unseen debris-laced water ripped people out of the trees and buildings sending them to certain death.
Several days later, pictures left us breathless. Towns were gone. Buildings had disappeared. Families were lost. The infrastructure was totally destroyed, leaving more sickness and death to come.
First hand accounts and images not seen in the States etched memories that will last a lifetime. How we could be snorkeling on the great barrier reef, enjoying some of the most beautiful creation observed by man, only to have the same nature take so many lives at will just to our north was beyond comprehension. The Indian Ocean tsunami took place 14 years ago. Many of the communities have recovered but many, many lives will never be the same.
In the late 1990’s a cultural tsunami crashed upon American shores in full force. It should not have been a surprise to the Christian community. Unlike the Indian Ocean waves, we were warned. For some reason we didn’t listen to the warning sirens. Was it spiritual arrogance? Maybe. Was it ignorance thinking the church itself could withstand such mind-numbing influences? Maybe. We spend too much time wanting to lay blame instead of facing the fact that the tsunami has struck, and we are woefully hanging on for dear life.
Between rampant consumerism and pervasive relativism even the church looks like life back in the book of Judges when every man did what was right in his own eyes. King Solomon was right: “There is nothing new under the sun.” We like to look out the window of the church with condemning attitudes. In the 60’s, we blamed the hippies. In the 70’s, we blamed Vietnam. In the 80’s, we blamed politics. In the 90’s, we blamed technology. In the early 2000’s, we blamed the Islamic Jihad. In the teens, we blame them all.
Meanwhile we continue to refuse to look inside the walls of the church and our own hearts. We need to set up confessionals. Instead of hearing confessions, we need to confess our sins. We are just as much consumers as the wolves on Wall Street. We treat Biblical truth as if we are at the Golden Corral picking and choosing what we want at any given time to make us happy. A friend of mine once said, “We call ourselves sinners but we won’t dare say what kind.” We show up on Sunday thinking we are more pious then our non-churched friends. Maybe we are like those who were looking for sea shells instead of comprehending the signs of massive change unlike we have ever seen before.
Martin Luther called the church in his day to repent. That was the message in the 1st of his 95 theseis. We need the same today. The call isn’t just for those who have remained in the pews. It’s for those who abandoned the system established by God himself as well. We look no different than the world anymore. They mock us with the name “Christian.” Instead of resentment maybe we should consider their words as truth. Jesus said, “He who loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” I know that message doesn’t fill pews. It wasn’t supposed to.