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Approximately 50% of Millennial’s raised in the church believe the Bible is a irrelevant, inaccurate, and an outdated text, no different than the Koran or any another religious historical text.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

Why Liturgical Church matters for Families

Raised in the evangelical world of Christianity, my background provided me with a firm set of what church should be like and more than a few dogmatic beliefs.

Worship was a time to exuberantly worship and praise the Lord, thus each Sunday I was treated to a live worship band with hi-tech imaging, super amped energy, and a series of increasingly intense worship songs.

I loved it until I didn’t. For many years this weekly injection of faith, excitement, and spiritual energy were an essential part of my spiritual life and perspective as a parent and a Christian.

There came a time when I was disillusioned with it.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing was out of place. The pastor was still dynamic, his sermons full of the latest social media and cultural references and as relevant as possible. The worship band was still top notch, full of precision players and nearly perfect vocals, like an awesome concert, it’s energy still revved me up. But it wasn’t penetrating very far and faded fast…

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

Communion was overlooked most weeks, it seemed to be an afterthought. We celebrated the sacrament with a few moments of brief explanation, maybe once every four to six weeks with a mass passing of the plastic thimble cups and a wafer. The focus and attention for the Eucharist was far below that of the intense live worship, hip pastor, and dramatic presentations of the church to engage and entertain me.

I transitioned from the evangelical world to the Anglican in 2009. Not as a disgruntled and unhappy evangelical, but as a believer in search of something more than another awesome set of intense ‘goosebumps’. 

I was struggling to find meaning in the emotional explosion of positive faith and ‘victorious’ living that my evangelical church had pushed so regularly.  My life wasn’t growing in depth, I found myself stretched too thin, I felt ‘a mile wide and an inch deep’. Superficial in my overall understanding of who God really was, and why things were so difficult in my life.

Photo by Adrien Olichon from Pexels

I found my spiritual health tied to my emotional status.

If I was ‘up’ and full of joy and hope… so was my perspective of God. If my world was stark and dark, so was my perspective on God’s will and character. I couldn’t engage the ‘joy-rah-rah’ of the hyperactive faith folks at church when my world was shattering. I found myself disturbed that it seemed no-one else was struggling with their faith, I felt alone and isolated in my doubts and discouragement.

The transition from an ‘evangelical’ church experience to a liturgical one was difficult. The Anglican way was slow, way less impressive on the surface and full of methodical readings, prayers that were scripted, and a weekly solemn celebration of the Eucharist.  Very little excitement here, less spontaneity and personality showing in this service, but there was something deeper here. I could sense it.

The emphasis seemed to have shifted from the external to the internal, this was a more intimate act of worship. I wasn’t captivated by the amazing performances of the pastor and worship team, but I became more sensitive and aware of the words and meanings of the prayers, focused on the liturgical readings, and I was in awe of the reverence shown to the scripture.

I found myself longing to linger in this presence of Christ that I felt in the celebration of the Eucharist, a mystical and mysterious moment I hadn’t felt in my evangelical upbringing. 

Next week.. we’ll discuss some of the reasons why many evangelicals are looking for a more liturgical experience in their church life.

Peace out, Pastor Brad.

PS – Disclaimer: This is “NOT” meant to demean evangelicals at all!  I admire and appreciate my evangelical brothers and sisters, and I don’t believe any one denomination is superior to another, we are unique and different but not ‘better’. This post is meant to be a honest description of my own faith journey from the evangelical to liturgical, and how it has changed me forever.

 

 

 

Rome…more than a Cliche’

After a breathless 24 hours in Switzerland we crossed into Milan and Lake Como… on our way to the eternal city.

Lake Como is the freaking bomb. Simply put… if you’re in the area, you MUST GO.

It exceeds the hype unlike most everything else in life. We managed a four-hour regional train excursion from Milan to Varenna, arriving before dawn. It was worth every bleary eyed moment of lost sleep to see the rose-colored sky as it hit the snow-capped peaks of the epic Italian Alps. varenna_topslider_11

Imagine a picturesque Italian village nestled in a surreal mountain landscape, add the most beautiful lake possible and then sprinkle some pixie dust. 🙂 That’s Lake Como.

After a two stage breakfast of homemade fruit croissants and local cheese, bread, and cappuccino we hit the rails back to Milan for our ultimate destination. The views of paradise firmly etched in our hearts for a lifetime.

Roma didn’t disappoint. At the risk of living a touristy cliché’, we had chosen to take our kids to see the eternal city and the quintessential history of Rome and Vatican City. We stayed at a great little hotel near the Colosseum for three nights and made the most of every moment. 

We bought the sightseeing bus (hop on off)  passes and they were surprisingly helpful to have! Distances and weather often kept us from easily walking from downtown shopping in Rome to the Vatican or Forum areas without a ride and the narrated audio headphone option gave us a greater appreciation for the architecture and significant history hidden all around us.

In Rome… EVERYTHING is beautiful and old and historical. You cannot see or grasp it all… so you have to pick what and where you will go and commit.

We did exactly that. We bought tickets to tour the Vatican Museums / Sistine Chapel and Colosseum along with the Roman Forum. (a full 3 days for anyone to tackle!)

We walked the cobblestone streets around Trevi Fountain, toured the Iconic Pantheon, and we ate a lot… drank wine, water with bubbles and pounds of bread. We soaked up a golden sunset on the Spanish Steps (view below) and shopped the unique boutiques of the old city. rome-on-a-budget

I would highly recommend each site or area mentioned as ‘must see’s for any who visit Rome. It’s a cliché’ for sure, but they are all breathtakingly beautiful and somehow an essential experience for gaining a better understanding of the world and it’s abundant cultural diversities.

In Rome you will hear dozens of languages, see every kind of style as tourist from Asia to Africa, Russia to Brazil and nearly  every culture in-between. There are so many diverse groups, families from every corner of the globe and all of us are in ‘awe’ of the wonder that surrounds. No one pretends it’s not affecting them… we all openly stop to stare and gawk. Inspired and overwhelmed by the power of this eternal city… as the history and beauty cast’s a profound spell over any who take the time to see.

I cannot speak of Rome without mentioning the food. It’s everything you hoped it would be and more… our favorite was a little tiny landmark restaurant, La Carbonara. (English is not a guarantee here, but struggle on and order the house specialty, you will not regret it.)

The various eateries and coffee shops that dot every block are all little treasures in themselves. Food is freshly prepared or baked on the premises… it takes time, forces you to slow down and savor the moments. Another wonder of Rome… the pace of your life shifts and suddenly you’re not in a hurry, not anxious to be somewhere… like time is standing still.

That moment of slowed pulse and renewed joy is the pure beauty that is Rome.

 

 

 

 

 

Do for the one… A lesson from Baltimore

Crazy stuff… kids looting, rioting, and out of control in a major US City.

Baltimore burning.

Rage and Frustration literally igniting a city as millions watched and took sides.

As a pastor a thousand miles away…my heart ached. 

Such fear and confusion, politics and posturing. Agenda’s seen and unseen pushing from behind the scenes to move us in calculated ways. It’s so messed up, it makes me want to throw my ‘hands up’ in a completely different way.

But way down deep in my heart is the sadness of knowing, this explosion of emotion is based on more than a rage at the machine or the ‘man’ in charge… it’s deeper than any political movement or social injustice. This is a symptom of darker and simpler things. 

channelnewsasia.com - Baltimore MD Riots

channelnewsasia.com – Baltimore MD Riots

The foundations are falling and the family is the first to go.

Baltimore is burning, lead by its dis-enfranchised youth. Where are the fathers and mothers to lead their family’s home ?

Are they absent for the decades of unresolved social injustices in their city, is it generational poverty, education erosion, violent gangs, drugs, a culture of open promiscuity… or is it the overall lack of faith or hope in the future that’s fueling this growing lack of respect for authority?

Take your pick. 

In the end, it’s about the home… or the absence of home for our youth.

America, it’s time “we” (Christians /you and I) do something about this, and stop allowing the media to push us into one camp or the other. We must see the outrage of our heavenly “Father” at the widows and orphans of our land. To ignore this is to be asleep or worse… apathetic to our selfish bones.

The words of a great sermon still echo through my heart’s halls... “Do for ‘one” what you wish you could do for all” (Andy Stanley) 

Ask God to show you ‘who’ and where and when, but it’s time we move from the sidelines to the front-lines of this modern american tragedy. It’s past time for God’s people to make a tangible difference. To risk being uncomfortable.

It’s as simple as looking for a life to invest in.

Find a young man or woman who isn’t in a healthy home or family. Adopt them. Take them in. Love them, teach them… learn from them. Grow. Become the hands and feet we sing about on Sundays.

Newsweek.com - Baltimore Riots April 27, 2015

Newsweek.com – Baltimore Riots April 27, 2015

Do for the one… and change the world. 

Pastor B

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.

 

 

It starts with me…

Tired of what your seeing on the news and hearing in the halls at work ? Frustrated with the polarized passion of our culture pushing us into taking a certain side… “for or against” is the only real option we’re given on the issues that matter.

The crisis in Syria, war or restraint ? For or Against ?

Same sex marriage laws ? For or Against ?

Minority rights and prejudiced cops – the Ferguson fiasco ? For or Against ?

Democratic or Republican ? For or Against ?

Common Core education in the public schools ? For or Against ?

Abortion and Mothers right to choose ? For or Against?

Handgun laws and restricted gun laws ? For or Against?

It’s a constant barrage of artificially induced agitation from our media, fueled by special interest groups and political agendas designed to manipulate us into taking a side, to pick and choose who and what we’re going to support from one extreme position or the other. All of it done in a 90 second sound-byte without time to reflect if the truth could very well land us in the middle of a debate.

How can a Christian parent or family biblically navigate these troubled waters and what do we as believers need to be aware of when setting the example for our kids and those who look up to us?

Couple of quick thoughts.

1 – Reconciliation is the heart of God.  First between our heavenly Father and his created children, and then between each other. For the Christian, reconciliation should be in our heartbeat of every day life. A decision we make each and every time to ‘choose’ to forgive, to determination to keep short accounts with God and each other. Reconciliation defuses our isolation and division between brothers and sisters and removes the temptation to prejudge people, circumstances and events from an ‘offended’ life view.

blindgossip.com

blindgossip.com

2- The body of Christ will not successfully impact culture by claiming moral superiority and reasoned debate. It will be our actions as individuals that makes the difference. Our willingness to ‘listen’ and not preach. Our respect of other viewpoints and persuasions is essential for building relationships and not simply proselytizing for new members.

3- Standing firm on principle, but approachable and gentle in spirit. Christian values may offend others, but let the offense be in Christ and not in us. We’re far too often the personality driven tools that force others to choose “For or Against” biblical beliefs, guilty of the very same approach that our secular counterparts use to polarize and divide the masses.

My prayer and hope; that we as individual Christians will decide to cross the gaps in our personal lives. To choose to engage in relationships with those we don’t easily understand or agree with on the surface. To be discontent with our current polarized way of living, to risk being uncomfortable and to drop our defenses long enough to discover the heart of each other.

Blessings,

Pastor B.

Quote from AW Tozer;

“No church is any better or worse than the individual Christians who compose it….

One consequence of our failure to see clearly the true nature of revival is that we wait for years for some supernatural manifestation that never comes, overlooking completely our own individual place in the desired awakening. Whatever God may do for a church must be done in the single unit, the one certain man or woman. Some things can happen only to the isolated, single person; they cannot be experienced en masse…

Three thousand persons were converted at Pentecost, but each one met his sin and his Savior alone. The spiritual birth, like the natural one, is for each one a unique, separate experience shared in by no one. And so with that uprush of resurgent life we call revival. It can come to the individual only.”

From his book, The Size of the Soul, 14-15.

Have yourself a PC Christmas…sorry i meant “Happy Holiday”

I’m getting a bit weary of the PC (Politically correct) movement in our society… the fear of offending “ANY” overshadowing the common sense of us all. Especially when it comes to Christmas. Yes I understand all people do not celebrate Christmas as all people are not Christian, but I do believe all people do wish to participate and support in activities which promote a “spirit” of good will, “basic peace on earth” and “charity”.

But… I’m exhausted with all the resistance to my old stodgy traditional ways… so as a productive member of society and a conservative values minded blogger, father and media executive… I’ve decided this year to cave-in to the pressures of our culture and pull back from wishing people, friends and brightly decorated evergreen’s a “Merry Christmas or Christmas Tree” as I have been accustomed to for  forty-two years… NO this year I’m going PC.

So let me be the first to wish you a “Happy Holiday” instead of a “Merry Christmas“. I understand the need to separate the church and state, the pressure to not exert an unfair influence on the delicate and unformed minds of our youth. I respect the need for others to express their contempt and resentment at any who would claim to have a faith in a creator… or the audacity to actually name a single individual as the only “Son of God”.

I step back just a bit from the presumptive nature of my own beliefs in the concern of offending others with my narrow-minded and bigoted ideas. Including the ideals of self-sacrifice, unconditional love and humility as being desirable attributes of Christians and “Christmas” as seen in the nature of the birth and life of our Christ. A celebrated and single-minded commemoration of our saviors arrival in Bethlehem previously referred to as “Christmas”.  Bah… Humbug!

Instead I have decided to use the more acceptable and PC form of seasonal celebration, the ever popular and non-offensive “Happy Holiday“.

I mean, if we want to be exact in our discussion about it… “Holy Day” it seems was the actual origin of this term and it does in fact specifically refer to the formation of a “Holy day” to celebrate the religious faith of the Hebrews and Christians before the 8th century. In fact, the more I’ve considered it…I think Holy Day is indeed an acceptable replacement for the commonly used term of Christmas. It brings out the deeper truth and significance of this annual special event right to the forefront. Yes… it really does.

To say that Dec 25th is more than a time to share gifts and endure our in-laws … well that’s kind of refreshing. To imply that this seasonal time of happiness is in fact meaningful, a sacred moment of personal contemplation and spiritual reverence…that may actually do a better job of conveying the initial meaning behind the observance of “Christ” – “Mass”. So if that’s the desire of our cultural elite… to strip our Decembers of the antiquated term “Christmas” and replace it with something different and tolerant like “Holi-day” then…O.K. Let’s agree to use that term as we reference one of the Holiest Days of  each Christian calendar year.

“Happy Holiday” it is… 🙂

In all seriousness… Here’s to wishing you and yours a very merry and contemplative season of Happy “Holy-Day’s”  this year and all throughout the next !

Love Brad.

oh… and for reference I’ve included the following source material from Dictionary.com

hol·i·day

noun:

1.a day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.
2.any day of exemption from work ( distinguished from working day).
3.a religious feast day; holy day, especially any of several usually commemorative holy days observed in Judaism.
 
Origin:
before 950; Middle English; Old English hāligdæg. See holy, day