TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Respect

I have read some news articles recently that refer to a statement that some women are making about being respected. It seems that the new buzz phrase among some is something like this: “We do not need to be modest to be respected.”

I may be old school on this, but I think that intentionally dressing immodestly and desiring respect for doing this is impossible. Respect, according to the dictionary, is “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” When a person decides to be immodest, it is not something to admire, indeed demonstrates no ability, lacks quality, and has nothing to do with achievement.

Our culture is struggling because we seem to insist on living lives that are guided by mutually exclusive ideas. We demand respect without cause, insist on being right because we “just believe” something, and make those who disagree with us unacceptable, all while preaching tolerance.

Our children are growing up in a time where confusion reigns.

As in all matters, we need to get to the heart of the statements made concerning respect. Indeed, all people, all ages, and all races should be shown kindness, and should be able to live in a world that would love them and not use them. God created us to be relational, to love Him, and to love others. He did not create us to use Him or to use others, and when we do that, we create a troubled society.

I believe that the ladies who want to be respected, even when they dress immodestly, are not using the right concept. In theory, regardless of what someone does, we need to do what we can to help them be the best they can be, not to position ourselves to take advantage or hurt them in any way.

Personal responsibility goes both ways. No matter what situation I encounter, I need to have what is best in mind for the person or people involved.

God’s Word addresses this issue by explicitly telling women they need to dress modestly. Those who choose not to do so are going against what God has expressly warned us against, and God has good reasons to say what He says.

Because people “wear” clothes differently, it is often difficult to define modesty, and, due to this difficulty, it is often not addressed, and when it is, there are rules and regulations put in place that turn it into some legalistic formula that causes many to search and find loopholes.

I think the definition of modesty is more straightforward than we want to make it.

If someone dresses in a way that screams “Look at my body or a specific body part,” it is immodest. If someone dresses to specifically attract the opposite gender’s eyes to get them to desire them, it is immodest.

If all women dressed modestly, there would still be lustful men, men who want to use them, and they could still be objectified. Immodesty is not the cause of lewd behavior, just as porn is not the cause of lust. However, immodest dress and pornography have similar effects on a person in that it fuels what is already there, sometimes making the fires entirely out of control. Any fireman would tell you that if you limit the fuel, you will limit the fire.

We so often want to assign blame to someone or something else when the problems in life are usually ourselves. Sin is a problem. Dressing in a way that says that I do not care if someone struggles with lust is irresponsible. Thinking of using others for our pleasure is equally irresponsible.

We cannot stop killing by limiting guns, curb obesity by outlawing sugar, or have people not want to use each other by dressing modestly.

If we want to solve the problem, we need to start by admitting that we are the problem, that sin is the problem, and that we are sinners.

Knowing that is the first step, and then understanding and responding to the love of God, as demonstrated through Jesus Christ, and adjusting our thinking and living to reflect life’s purpose will solve the problem.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Whose battle is this?

"'You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you."
2 Chronicles 20:17 (ESV)

When we concentrate on our ability to fight, we limit our ability to fight. When God fights for us, no one can stand against us. 

However, that means that He is fighting for us. To take on battles that are ours, not His, and hope He fights for us is not right. The battles that God fights are His battles, not ours. He is not "on call" waiting for us to give Him marching orders. He is the one at war, the one with the battle plan, and the one giving the orders. 

The battle is not ours; it is His. He will fight such a battle, and we, because we have yielded to Him, will win. 

This life is a war zone. We are at war whether we want to be or not. Only the dependent win, so stay dependent.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

First World Culture

Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men. Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers.
2 Chronicles 13:17-18 (ESV)
 
They did not prevail because they were strong, smart, or wise. They prevailed because they relied on the Lord.
 
In our first-world culture, we so often rely on anything but God, and, if we have to pray about it, we have hit rock bottom. Praying becomes something we do when in a crisis, when hope is gone, or when we have exhausted our alternatives.
 
The victor will always be the one who relies on God. The eventual losers rely on strategy, strength, plans, and skill.
 
This is not a condemnation on planning, strategy, strength, plans, and skill, but it is a warning to those who trust these things that were given to us in order to show the world who God is.
 
Those who trust the flesh must realize that the flesh is dependent upon circumstances they cannot control. It is always better to trust the one who can control the circumstances. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Christian Camps: A Mighty Tool in the Hands of the Local Church



Sunday School teachers, parents and youth workers often talk to their children about the importance of learning to be a leader. We speak to them often about the need for them to be witnesses to their friends about the love of God and the good news of the Gospel.

The trouble is that we often speak, but seldom show them how it is done.

Christian camping gives us that unique tool, that special time in life when a significant adult relationship in the life of a young man our woman can mean the difference between abundant life now and forever, or just existing now, with no hope for the future.

Imagine a mom/dad or youth worker making each child an offer of going to camp and paying for them and any “non-Christian” friend they invite. Then, they could add to the offer by volunteering to be their counselor and would personally go and talk to the parents of their friend to encourage them to come to camp.

Beyond the obvious, imagine this adult recruiting a high school or college-aged young person from his/her church to be an assistant counselor with them for the week.

With kids, a camp like Silver Birch Ranch (silverbirchranch.org) is an easy sell. There is much to do from whitewater rafting, water-skiing, horses, climbing wall, zip lines, swimming, boating, and more. Yet, the true joy will come as each young person receives uninterrupted time with this adult, and at some time during the week, as he/she places his/her trust in Jesus as his/her Savior.

The adult has accomplished his/her responsibility to model Christianity. The Christian child has learned by example the importance of evangelism, and the young leader learned immense amounts by observing a real mom or dad in action. When they return back home at the end of the week, the guests will want to get involved in the youth group, the adult will begin to plan for the following summer various ways to attract and help more kids get to camp, and the leader-in-training will now think about a life of service to others, rather than to self.

Christian camping is suffering in some ways in that many Christians have lost the idea that founded so many camps, and instead, they have become “consumers” of camps. Often, the Christians arrive early to camp and fight for the best bunk, best cabin, and, well, the best of everything for their child. Camp has become about their pleasure and no longer is seen as a tool. This is tragic and has forced many camps to act in ways that attract consumers rather than challenge them.

At Silver Birch Ranch (silverbirchranch.org) we invite you to take another look at the purposes for Christian camping and encourage your family, children and church to become involved in something that gives real answers to the most pressing problems of our day. Imagine what could happen if groups would begin, once again, to see the power of the “disconnect” that camping affords.

Think of it. What would happen if a youth group challenged every clubber to invite an unsaved friend and made sure the friend was paid for and the counselors from the church were ready and trained? What would happen if a church put an ad in the paper inviting any single mom who had a camp age child a free week at camp, a week the church would pay for and provide a counselor for, and then would have a debriefing with them when the summer was over? What would happen if we made this summer camping thing about them instead of us?

We have a large list of young people who need sponsors, and there are many children in your neighborhood who need a friend who will love them and show them Jesus. Working a specific strategy for Christian camping may be the most significant thing you ever do. Call us at Silver Birch Ranch (715 484-2742) and let us walk you through how you can do this. (Or go to the web site at silverbirchranch.org and download the necessary information.)

We have the tool, but, as any tool, it is worthless unless it is in the hands of one who will wield it. We look forward to serving you this summer.





Saturday, September 2, 2017

Reality?

In most cases, we do not care about the future implications of the trends we enjoy. Many times, we cannot see the future, so we ignore it, and thereby, live our lives out of context. 

There are many technological trends that were major game-changers in life. The telegraph, radio, television, personal computers, internet, and cell phones have transformed the way we live in incredible ways. 

The harnessing of the power from the ground, wind, sun, and atom has made it so that we can have “power” accomplish much of our work for us. 

The results of many of these incredible advancements has been enabled us to leap forward in many areas, yet, as is often the case, new has not always been better

We have increased our speed and capacity to communicate, yet we struggle with communication, and have often reduced and replaced eye-to-eye communication with soundbytes, electronic messages, and emojis. We have power to mow our lawns, move our bodies from one place to another, and keep us updated into the night, and have become lazy, obese and overtired. 

The pretend world has encroached so much on the real world that reality is a blur, and far more attention is given to the make-believe. People learn about life from the television, youtube, or some social media platform, while ignoring the life that is happening around them. 

Pastors and youth workers are told to keep their messages short because people lack the capability of paying attention to real people, real topics, and real presentations. People are able to entertain themselves for hours in the pretend media world, but only minutes in reality. 

Add to this the idea of virtual reality and its Implications for the future, and we see mankind in a whole lot of hurt. We were made to enjoy real relationships with real people doing real work, enjoying real play, and looking at and touching real people. The virtual replacement is a cheap replacement.

This is not new, as there is really nothing new under the sun. Our methods may be new, but the subversive purposes of the evil one remain constant. A relationship with God and with people are the two foundational cornerstones of life, and the virtual world is attempting to satisfy these desires in an unsatisfactory way. 

More people are shaped by the hours of influence the media presents rather than the minutes of influence they have given to God and to each other. Spiritual anorexia (the taking in of truth only to rid oneself of it so as not to actually be affected by it) is prevalent in many young people, while spiritual obesity (the consumption of spiritual food only to do nothing with the spiritual calories obtainedis the struggle of the old.

Substituting the pretend for the real is a problem. Lives are in existence, but people are not living. The portrayal by “others” of how they live, and what they think and do has become the norm on how we judge ourselves and our families.

Reality has been eclipsed by the virtual so much so that we no longer know how to live in the real world. This means that we, in our effort to enjoy what is not and cannot be, have destroyed what is and could be. 

We, as individuals and a culture, need to begin to abandon the pretend, and once again move into the reality. We need to intentionally spend time with each other outside the presence of the virtual. We need to be intentional about serving together, playing together, working together, walking together, and so forth

Christian camping is a tool that needs to be taken out of the church’s tool box and used on a regular basis. People need to get up and get out and sit on the back of a horse, along with others, while riding through a wooded trail. Bear, deer and frogs need to be seen and heard, for real, and we need to stare at stars that are unhindered by the lights of a city.

Pastors, leaders, and parents need to stop thinking about how to entertain, and start thinking about how to interact on a regular basis. We need to stop thinking how a week of reality, short-term mission project, can solve our problem, and begin to think about a life of reality. 

Silver Birch Ranch has developed tools to help re-establish real relationships. You can come and serve on a regular basis as a dish crew, maintenance crew, or work on special projects. This can be done on a regular basis, and ownership of certain tasks and projects can be a reality. This time can be used to accomplish something real, be real examples, and interact with real people

The Nicolet Bible Institute is a tool that has been developed to allow college-aged young people the opportunity to spend real time with God and each other, and to learn to serve, for real, the people who come onto the grounds of Silver Birch Ranch. 

The Wolf River Refuge has been developed to give families, churches, and various ministries a place to get away, and to focus on God and each other in a comfortable Northwoods, river-side setting, and the new Relate365 ministry will be working hand-in-hand with the Wolf River Refuge to provide education, consultation, conferences, and other resources to once again move us to reality in relationships.

Information for all these tools can be found at silverbirchranch.org.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Much Demanded.....

But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Luke 12:48 (ESV)  

Those who have lived in a first-world country, who have had access to Bibles, Bible teaching, history, education, freedom of expression, radio, television, internet, and so on, are not entitled,but responsible. 

They are responsible to use their assets in a way that the one who gave them the asset will be able to declare, “Well done. They are responsible to use whatever they have been given to expand the Kingdom, not expand their kingdom. 

It is hard for the rich to love God, just as it is hard for the poor to not envy the rich. 

What is important in life is available to all, regardless of their status. All can enjoy God and enjoy each other. All can do as God has commanded. 

First-world countries may be full of rich fools who first calculate what’s in it for them, while forgetting that they do not determine what happens tomorrow, and why they were entrusted with the much they enjoy. 

God is older than us, smarter than us, and loves us. We can, and should, trust Him.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Consistency

1 Kings 18:19 (ESV)
"Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."

There are epic moments in history. This is one of them. There will be 850 prophets who basically worship Satanic forces against one who worships God. This is not a showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. It is a showdown between Satan and God played out among their faithful.

This story easily illustrates this epic battle, yet this is the same battle that takes place today in places all over the world. Those who are faithful to God will find themselves in a fight because of their faithfulness to God.

This fight is not about their own viewpoints and ability. It is a fight between God and the forces of evil--the multitudes of evil who think that a majority opinion can and should sway the single declarations of God.

They were wrong in Elijah's day and they are wrong today. The fight continues, the strategy remains the same, and the outcome, for those who listen to God, remains constant.