Faith grows, One generation to the next.

“Preserving our Faith, one church, one family, one generation at a time” 

There are a variety of secular forces at work in our society that seek to undermine the Christian faith. Specifically, these voices criticize the authenticity and authority of Scripture as well as the incarnation / resurrection claims of Christ.

Educated voices are claiming the bible is full of antiquated teachings and inaccurate texts. Our biblical beliefs are being generally discarded as fables and myth instead of being respected and revered as actual historical and spiritual events.

These forces are effectively disrupting thousands of years of church history and orthodoxy in only a few generations. Those impacted most include the 2 latest named generations. (Millennial’s and GenZ) – the erosion of faith is becoming clearly evident in the habits and beliefs / values of families with young children. (*stats from Barna Research, Huffington post, and the Orange Group.)

50-75% of students raised in the “church” leave for college and never return.

Over 65% of families are either blended or single parent – there are very few traditional, same parent homes left.

Approximately 50% of Millennial’s raised in the church believe the Bible is a irrelevant, inaccurate, and an outdated text, no different than the Koran or any another religious historical text.

The stories of heroic faith and miraculous phenomena described in scripture are disregarded by today’s young adults as myth and exaggeration.

The deity of Christ is directly damaged by the erosion of scripture as the divinely inspired history of God and mankind. The virgin birth and resurrection tradition become invalidated if the scripture can be undermined as inaccurate and unreliable. Additionally, we see culture discarding the moral codes dictated to Moses (The 10 commandments) and St. Paul (Romans) as they transcribed Gods laws to hold mankind accountable to a higher standard of divine justice and holiness.

Photo by Emre Can from Pexels

When we as a society disregard scripture as a moral authority, we allow ourselves to become our own “gods” – which gives us the presumptive powers to re-write” the moral rules to fit our own preferences. That is EXACTLY what we are seeing today. The original – divine – blueprint for life and human purpose has been literally rejected, erased, and rewritten according to our own personal opinions and reinvented “truth”.

The overwhelming rejection of all things “Christ-ian” has permeated the public sphere and is directly affecting our laws and social behaviors. The church finds itself in full retreat and assuming a defensive posture. This is due in part because of the rapid social transformation external to us as well as the growing publicity of our own internal moral failures of our leaders.

The net – net is this, we face a time of growing hostility to the church and its closely guarded and previously sacred beliefs. The church is seen as a compromised and hypocritical voice with no moral authority to speak to our modern culture.

The light we were meant to bring to the darkness has been greatly diminished – the darkness is growing and gaining momentum and widespread influence in our time. (Romans 1-2) Not a new phenomenon, something Paul was facing in the first century church as it engaged with Pagan Greeks and Romans and later St. Augustine faced with the widespread corruption of the church in the 4-5th centuries as it sought to offset the ways of the pagan culture it existed in and among.

It is and always has been the role of the church and the faithful believer to endure and remain steadfast, immovable, always prepared to give a reason for the hope within us. We are not going to change the world in a decade, but over time the “testimony” of faithful men and women that speaks louder and stronger than any media messages or false claims of truth.

The world is searching harder than ever for answers. They desperately want to know why they exist, what life is all about, what comes next?

We actually have those answers available within the church and carefully secure within the history and stories of our past. Each generation of Christian families and their testimonies carry the gospel message forward. Millennial’s and GenZ adults are desperately seeking to discover more than the “moment” can offer them, “They long for meaning, for anchors to secure themselves and their lives to, something timeless and eternal”. (*Fr. Dan Scott Ph.D.)

This (current) aging generation of faithful Christians have carried their values and beliefs with them, and the treasure of those carefully preserved traditions and beliefs are not “outdated” or erroneous, they are in fact as valid as ever. The structure that has provided safe haven for those beliefs and values is the Church itself, just as Paul said it would be. 

In the church we see our orthodox beliefs secured inside the traditions, liturgy, and common prayers of our historical creeds. These have been passed down reverently from one generation to the next for hundreds and thousands of years irregardless of the rise and fall of society and culture.

When we celebrate and remember the perfect work of Christ on Calvary each week, we are carrying those truths and traditions forward. The essentials of our faith are wrapped up in those familiar phrases, prayers, and declarations, and are carefully positioned in  the history of our church liturgies to preserve and protect them from the whims of popular opinion and personal interpretation.

The vitality of the worship we share with each other during each Sunday is more than for our own personal edification, those moments serve our children and grandchildren as protectors and incubators of faith, safekeeping and extending the influence of the gospel with continuity from one generation to the next.

I believe the churches finest hour is yet to come, as the hour approaches so will the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit to His people.

Blessings;

Fr. Brad.

Do you know what you believe?

Seems silly to ask…

But an important question for each of us to answer.

Do you/we know what we actually believe about the essentials ? You know, the important stuff like… “what or who is God”, “what role does Faith play in our lives”… “what is Christianity”… “where do I land on the moral and social justice issues of our time”, “does absolute truth exist”?

Nicene Creed

Nicene Creed

We often carry what we ‘know’ without much consideration. With no urgency to explore the reasons why we ‘believe’ stuff… we sort of move through life untroubled by doubt until someone else crosses our path and disagrees stridently with us. Suddenly we’re confronted with all sorts of irritated thoughts and questions, strong emotional reactions pouring out of us in a rush to defend our beliefs, it’s often in those moments we start to realize we truly can’t explain why.

Personal convictions of truth must go deeper than a vague concept of what’s right or wrong or a long ago memorized creed. Today, we need to go beyond what we were ‘taught’ or learned ourselves from pop culture, childhood Sunday school lessons, or the simple acceptance of what our parents said was true. What do WE believe?

Complex and life altering influences are all around us. From the latest polls to the block-buster movies we’re catching at the local cinema, we may be absorbing more of our cultures beliefs than we realize, reduced to a faith based-carbon copy of our secular counterparts. Emotion driving us to form our values and personal beliefs, from recycling to a woman’s freedom of choice.

With a moment or two of consideration, we may find we’re far less formed in faith beliefs and convictions than we first ‘thought we were’. 

What do we believe… ?Chesterton-Quote

My challenge dear reader.., take the time to find out! Invest a little time in some personal research. Educate yourself by reading up and praying through your life. Ask God to show and confirm to you the “truth”.

Learn about some of the defining issues of our time and consider for yourself what is ‘right’ and ‘true’. Our kids will take their ‘que’ from us. IF they see us asking the important questions… they will too.

In this millennial generation, maybe more so than any in a long time…beliefs are going to be tested. Simply ‘assuming’ our kids agree with us because they compliantly follow along right now, isn’t going to cut it. WE / THEY need to ask the hard questions, wrestle through the options and find the truth for themselves.

Honestly, there just isn’t any other way. And, I believe it’s all as intended by the great designer Himself.

Every blessing to you as parent your families forward to life…. and check out some great resources from Reasonable Theology; start your ‘belief’ journey here !

Peace and Grace,

Pastor B.

PS – the sacred “Creeds’ of the Christian Faith are a fantastic way to review the essentials. Teaching those to your kids is a great way to start the process of learning. But simply memorizing the words isn’t the same as understanding and believing.

Transplant Theology

The Christian faith has to be more than a list of what not’s. More than a set of higher ideals and noble pursuits… the faith of those who follow Christ must have a bit of the supernatural. The mystic and mysterious nature of God and man intermingling and re-engineering our very souls has to be way more than just a tradition or practice of piety.

galleryhip.com

galleryhip.com

Our basic beliefs hinge on some radical concepts... the violation of known physical and scientific law (Virgin Birth, Resurrection of a dead man, elemental control of the weather, gravity, etc..), as well as the most impossible evidence of all, the regular and repeated transformation of one’s desire’s.

As Christians we are supposed to serve a God of the impossible and improbable.

Why do we tend to retreat to the safe-zone of scientific reason and rational logic when defending our faith and beliefs? Is it to protect ourselves from public ridicule and the private smirk of cynics and realists, embarrassed to be counted as one of the radical Christian ‘fringe’?

Are we uncomfortable being lumped in as part of the emotionally unstable… a sensational and unpredictable ‘charismatic’ Christian, always claiming to see and experience dynamic movements of the Holy Spirit?

So what are we comfortable with?

justacatholic.blogspot.com

justacatholic.blogspot.com

Safe church services where we can easily predict what comes next? Do we enjoy the elevated discussions on theology, doctrine and bible semantics, careful consideration of the latest Christian best-sellers and media… maybe it’s the social predictability of seeing ‘normal’ and safe people with healthy personal boundaries and a familiar mindset. These can be quite reassuring, but are they what we need ?

Our most essential truth is the power of God expressed on a cross to raise the dead.

The very man who claimed to be “THE” son of God… an example of supernatural power and uncomfortable custom – breaking behaviors. He talked with prostitutes, drank in the local pubs, taught without a seminary degree, challenged the ‘heart ‘of the law and revealed the differences between hypocrisy and authentic faith.

Jesus transcended the history and influence of all holy men, prophets, and religious leaders who ever lived in 3 brief years. His message of new life still vibrant over two thousand years later. So what validated what He claimed was the truth?

Miracles validated Christ’s claims.

What is going to validate our faith to this generation…?

quietkinetic.wordpress.com

quietkinetic.wordpress.com

For me, it’s the miracle of a heart transplant. That I could give up my old broken heart for a new – pure true one. The spontaneous regeneration of my character, morality and compassion from the ravages of sin and compromise. God re-arranged me from the inside out. Every atom realigned to become something ‘different‘ than I had been. Like a flash of lightning, my life was turned inside out and from wrong to right.

A legitimate miracle.

Since that day… my life has been one transformational moment after another. First in me, then my family and now in the church I help lead.

The Holy Spirit untamed as ever, has pushed me from all things comfortable and familiar as I follow…. seeking to just keep up.

I believe we need more of the miraculous and less of the safe stuff we call Christianity. We need some transplant theology to radically revive our collective hearts and to show a watching world that God is still very much alive.

Peace out,  Pastor B.

 

 

the final Peace for your puzzle

Monday morning, 5:30 am. Alarm blares and first thoughts of the day hit like an icy fist in the gut…. Dread, Fear, Anxiety, knots of unease form as we grapple mentally with problems unresolved and coming up in our day. “We wonder …what is going on with my life? Things are piling up around and over me, heavier and deeper each year…everyone else is speeding up while I’m laying here stuck!

artsonline.monash.edu.au

artsonline.monash.edu.au

Gulping down breakfast and dropping the kid’s at school, Kroger, the gas station, and onto work… channel surfing the radio and looking for something to ‘grab’ for the day. An inspiring song, a great sermon sound-byte, promising news report on the economy….’anything positive to give us just a smidge of comfort, some scrap of encouragement for a day that seems doomed before it begins.

Disgusted at the lack of hope in the world,  you settle for a retro radio station and sip convenience store coffee until the demands of the day force back the dull ache that used to be your heart. We’re only dimly aware we might be surrendering our yearning for something ‘better’ to simply surviving.

Life, it’s crazy complicated. Family, marriage, career…they each demand all of us. Friends, bosses and children…all shouting for us to “keep up!”  We run and hustle obediently to get things done, pushing forward. Numbly we find a way to fit ‘everything and everyone’ into our 24/7 schedules, only to find ourselves back in bed… waking up with a fresh round of deeper anxiety and dread.

Whats happening to us ?

Couple of quick thoughts,

1 – We have to ‘remember’ our purpose. God created us, our kids… our friends, everyone and everything with purpose. We’re not random accidents of science and happenstance. Our lives have purpose,but finding the purpose in the day-to-day is hard. It takes effort and intentionality to rediscover your faith and focus for life. (that means time)!  Sharing your heart (fears, frustrations and anxieties) with God, reading scripture and hanging out on a regular basis with a community of faith 🙂

2 – We have to ‘trust’ that in our purpose, God has a plan. Our life circumstances are more than a series of tragic episodes. We’re in process, being changed and transformed from the in-side out. Faith means believing there will be ‘good’ that comes out of our suffering, in our difficulties God shows up. We learn to recognize His face, His voice and His path instead of the ‘other’ options we have.

3- Our hearts are redeemed. As a Christian, you’re living with a redeemed heart. God has touched you with His Holy Spirit, it hovers inside of your life, and inspires us to do great and beautiful things with our lives. It’s only barrier to full expression is fear.  We live as wounded and wary people, avoiding risk and intimacy in an effort to avoid more pain. But the truth is we’re designed to grow only by sharing, only by sacrifice can we become whole. When we live ‘guarded’ lives, we’re only living with half of our hearts.

God is closer than we feel. He’s touched us before, and He’s ready every morning to touch us again. To take away our fear, and pain and sorrow and replace it with peace. It’s one of the most important pieces in our life puzzle. Once we sort that out, we can start to see the patterns and beauty of our lives unfold.

Love you, Pastor B.

 

 

 

Stop Apologizing

I find myself “apologizing” for all kinds of random stuff.

I apologize…

For irritating my teenagers when I ask them to get off their smart phone and do the dishes.

For asking for help.

For speaking the truth in a posture of love.

For going back to exchange the right item for my drive-through order.

For being offended by an overtly sinful act or image.

For opening the door for a lady I don’t know.

For praying before a meal at a restaurant.

For not being as passionate about political issues as my friends.

For not praying enough and for feeling like I’m ‘bothering’ God when I do pray.

It seems I apologize frequently.

A sort of social knee-jerk for me when I sense any potential for imminent conflict or uncomfortable tension in a circumstance or relationship.

As modern, culturally conditioned parents and Christians, we’re taught to be über sensitive to others. To do our best to avoid being rude, offensive and presumptuous with our faith or beliefs. As a result I and We often take the ‘high’ road of avoidance in an effort to simply reduce the stress on our own lives. That ‘appears’ to be the right thing…until you really think it through.

uheart.wordpress.com

uheart.wordpress.com

As Parents… we’re called to lead. As Christians we’re called to be distinct in our world, “light” in the dark and “salt”for flavoring ? 

What happens if we simply fade back into the word-work and allow other more vocal and angry folks to paint the context for Christianity or Culture without our voices? What if we refuse to risk rejection in a vain attempt to be conciliatory and safe?

As I study – grow and learn from scripture, I’m captured by the boldness of men and women of Faith. Those who threw off the social ‘norms’ and status quo to embrace a new way of living from an emerging gospel that brought truth and clarity to the lost and confused.

A Pilgrims path of understanding and reconciliation that included openly confessing their beliefs in the Cross of Christ and sharing with others of the ways in which His gift of forgiveness had released them from enduring a life of captivity & shame.

The emphasis in the early church* was of a passionate compulsion to reach out to others, to share, to rescue and to love, not to pull back in restraint and apathetic – distant – contemplation.

God help us to be ‘bold’ and “loving’ followers of Jesus, clearing our minds and hearts from the self-imposed ‘shame’ of an apologetic gospel. Following Christ may cause some confrontations from time to time, but in the end… if we’re motivated by love, it can only heal, restore and redeem those who it touches. Help us to be your ‘hands and feet‘ to a world that continues to spiral out of control.

Parents, lead on!

Oh, and fellow believers….let’s stop apologizing for the clarity that comes from living for and in Christ.

Pastor B.

*for reference, check out the Apostle Paul’s’ letter to the Colossians and Philemon in the New Testament. (Source – BibleGateway)

 

Prodigal pain

Raising kids up and into adulthood can be one of the most rewarding and most painful experiences a parent will ever face.

Those of us with adult kids (over 18) know exactly what I’m referring to here. Those of you who don’t yet.. bear with me a little on this post.

We can faithfully serve, model and demonstrate our faith to our kids year after year and still find ourselves nauseous with the gut wrenching turmoil of watching one of our own “bail” on everything we tried to teach. Authentic and faithful are all we can be. After that, it’s up to the Holy Spirit and free will.

I recently had to watch a 22-year-old son in the faith, flat-out walk away from the truth he had embraced only months before. The culprit, infatuation and months of deceit with a healthy dose of behavior modification to smooth things over.

In the end, the truth came out and he decided to leave the confines of our Christian home and seek his fortunes elsewhere…on his own terms. He left his faith, the truth of the scripture and the divine blue-print God gives us for a healthy life all behind as he made his escape.

Broke my heart.

If you’ve ever experienced that for yourself, you know how much those three words contain. But it didn’t break my hope for him. I am trusting him to the same grace and goodness of the God who chased me down as a 30-year-old . I had hoped to help him avoid the many painful regrets of a life lived selfishly and to provide a healthy foundation for his life to be built on… but that it seems will have to wait.

In the interim, I can pray and wait and watch.

I’m praying for God to interfere with his plans and re-direct him back to the safety of his faith. I’m waiting expectantly for that to happen and confident that it’s not a matter of  “IF” but of “WHEN”… and I’m watching so I can rush to greet him when he surrenders it all to Christ and resumes the journey of life and faith we began together.

Jesus uses the parable of the prodigal for a reason. In one way or another we are ALL in that illustration of life. For some of us with adult children who are living outside of the will of God, it’s an obvious and poignant reminder of the truth.

For others it’s a reminder to trust God to be faithful for our kids at any age, believing that their eternal security is riding on more than just our ability to be “good” parents. It’s riding on the complete and absolute willingness of God our Father to do whatever it takes to win their hearts.

Let’s hang tight to our confidence and trust our kids (adult or tween) to the loving Father who saved us when we were lost too, after all it’s only a matter of time.

Peace and Grace -Pastor B.

——————————————————–

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV) – Source Biblegateway.com

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

NOAH… the movie

NOAH… “the” Noah. Legend, myth… or actual historic figure, whatever you choose to believe, his tale is an epic story, pulled from the ancient archives of the book of Genesis., the first book of the bible. The most recent incarnation of Noah comes to life in Russell Crowe, part of a big budget, super intense – CGI fantasy show, complete with apocalyptic immersion into the ‘pre-history’ of mankind.

Noah’s world is an ash-tray of a garbage dump, blackened and fouled by the industrial hordes of pre-historical technology and a violent, lawless society. Noah serves to protect the last of the pristine earth and it’s animals from the relentless surge of a blood-thirsty civilization.

The cinematography is DARK and DIRE, sweeping and full of some strange stuff, and ideas. (i.e. Watchers)

Filmed largely in Iceland, this epic story becomes a very focused dramatic tale about the dysfunctional family dynamics that twist Noah’s life.

For parents, this movie is dark, scary and at times bloody. A violent, but not so far-fetched interpretation of the biblical text. A bit too violent and scary for youngsters in my opinion. Kids under 13-14 should steer clear, but for those with teens, this provide parents with an excellent opportunity to go deeper.

My encouragement is this… take your teens to see this with you. Prepare them by reading through the Genesis narrative as contained in the scriptures. (Gen 5-9) Once you have your popcorn and milk duds, kick back and enjoy the fictional and gritty drama of Noah’s family as they cope with the pressures of global genocide and personal faith. The acting is solid and you’ll find yourself caught up in the tension that builds between Noah and his daughter/wife/sons along the way.

I did appreciate the powerful reality check the movie provides to us as believers. Namely that there is such a day as “judgment day” and that sin isn’t a minor detail on the way to the warm glow of an Easter story. I also appreciated the struggle Noah has with understanding what God is calling him to do, making his faith all to familiar, something for us all to appreciate.

hdwallpapersdose.com-

hdwallpapersdose.com-

Note the odd emphasis on Noah’s intense – even rabid faith portrayal, the value placed on animals over mankind and the use of magic by Noah’s grandfather along the way. Entertaining and intense, this story is a bit of a ssstttrrreeeettttcccchhhhh , but it serves a very useful purpose. You will have your teens interested enough in the bible to read and talk about it for days to come.

For the record, it’s big budget and exciting, although a “downer”, it is full of great music and hi-tech imaging, effectively recreating what would seem to be the basic “vibe” of the old world decay that the bible describes.

I happen to believe the bible is accurate, truthful and trustworthy, making this story more than just a fable, but a piece of our historical journey with God. As such, it’s message is timeless and powerful… making it a significant movie pick for today’s family to consider.

That’s enough for me to recommend taking your own voyage to the nearest theatre!

Peace out and past the popcorn already… 🙂

Pastor B.