I heard Paul Simon’s new song “The Afterlife” on the radio yesturday. I liked it. When I heard the name of the album, I was reminded of the truth I purport to know. And running the risk of oversimplification, here is part of it: People will finally rest in only one of two camps. When considering the question of God, either they will say, “So Beautiful” or, “So What”. But let ther be no mistake, there is evidence to convince us of “So Beautiful”. It requires an open heart, and a search for something called (for lack of a better word) – Truth!
“Not too crazy about dying” and pissed off about it…
In considering Pauls interview with Brian Williams, his comment about death, being the obnoxious inevitability, should not be taken lightly. The bible teaches – it’s totally un-natural and it is the last enemy God will overcome.
Paul, you might want to know, there is an understanding of the afterlife full of hope not so bleak. The Apostle Paul understood, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Phil 1:21-24 (NLT)
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” 2 Cor 5:6-8 (NASB)
Of course Apostle Paul had faith – a faith anyone can have through a true knowledge of Christ and what he accomplished on the cross. God asks us all for a simple response to His offer of the free gift of salvation – eternal life with Him. God says we need His mercy. I hope you’ve asked Him for it!
Katrina and I went to see Robin Hood last night. What an “outlaw” – and this is just the pre-quill. I think it will become more evident in the sequel. He does live outside the law of the land. However, he seems to be a man strongly guided by principles.
What’s impressive about characters in movies like Robin Hood, or Outlaw Josie Wales, is that the main character seems to be mysteriously “marching to the tune of a different drummer”. Their actions seem to be deeply controlled by their world view – that is, how this particular person views the world around him and what he believes about it. Out of this world view are formed guiding principles. You want to know what that is that’s driving them.
The Words of the “outlaw” in the movie Outlaw Jose Wales:
Jose Wales was an outlaw in the eyes of the ruthless Union soldiers. They we’re the ones who raped and pillaged everything he had been working for in this world – his wife and family. He sided with the confederates because he knew it was the red legged Unions who did the evil deeds. When the rest of the confederates gave themselves over to the “clemency” of the union soldiers, he rode on, becoming an outlaw in the eyes of the union. They set out to hunt him down. The principles Josie lived by, were later revealed in a conversation with the Indian chief Ten Bears. Apparently, Wales reputation preceded him even into the Indian Nations because the chief said, “You are the gray rider who would not make peace with the Blue Coats, You may go in peace”. But Josie, caring for more than him-self, sided with those friends he had found along the way. This is how he responded: “I recon not. I’ve got nowhere to go. [Chief: “Then you will die”]. I came here to die with you… …or live with you. Dyin’ ain’t so hard for people like you and me… it’s livin’ that’s hard… when all you really care about has been either butchered or raped. Governments don’t live together, people live together. With governments you don’t always get a fair word or a fair fight. Well I’ve come here to give you either one… or get either one from yah. I came here like this so you’ll know my word of death is true… …and then that my word of life is then true. The bear lives here, the wolf, the antelope… the Comanche… and so will we. We will only hunt for what we need to live on, as the Comanche does. And every spring when the grass turns green in the spring and the Comanche moves North, you can rest here in peace… butcher some of our cattle for jerk beef for the journey. The sign of the Comanche will be on our lodge. That’s my word of life. [Chief: And your word of death?] It’s here in my pistles and there in your rifles.
I’m here for either one. [Chief: These things you say we will have… we already have.] That’s true! I ain’t promisin’ yah anything extra. I’m just sayin’ I can give you life and you’re givin’ me life. And I’m sayin’ men can live together without butcherin’ oneanother. [Chief: It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the devil tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all the Comanche to see, and so, there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears, carries the same words of life and death. It is good that worriers such as we meet in the struggle of life… or death. It shall be life.] And so it goes, they cut their hands and become blood brothers!
Ha, ha. But, my only point in all of this is… outlaws live by a single minded focus based on principles – at the least the kind of outlaw I’d like to be. Outlaws for Jesus, is just fine with me. We march to the tune of a different drummer. Those against us don’t understand. They need to be informed – “…how will they know without a preacher?”
• Have a keen sense of most important things standing in the way of attaining the goal.
• Have a willingness to abandon the law of the land when it conflicts w/supreme goal.
• Are often one step ahead of their adversaries.
• They “march to the tune of a different drummer.”
• They do the unexpected – tend to be unpredictable.
• Operate during the day or night – basically always have the same agenda.
• Consistently operate on a value system that trumps all others.
• Have a single minded focus.
• Are opportunists good at seizing the opportunities that present themselves because they are constantly ready for them and looking for them.
• Easily shed barriers which interfere with the goal.
“Outlaw” Verses in the Bible:
By night: Acts 18:9-11 Trusts God Acts 26:4-8 Not easily intimidated
Escaped: Acts 16:27-30 Does unexpected things, love opportunist Hebrews 11:32-34 Counter cultural, willing to “take the heat” for sake of goal 2 Peter 1:4-8 “marching to the tune of a different drummer”, exhibits Godly tenacity
Slipped away: John 5:12-13 Have their own timetable and agenda
Scattered: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Channels ‘rightious mammon’ for the cause 1 Peter 1:1-9 Scattered but set appart from the status quo by grace of God 1 Peter 1:13-16 Single minded focus
Conformed: Romans 12:1-2 A logical way but not this worlds way – non-conformists Romans 12:9-21 On board with God’s kind of love not the worldly way
Overcome the world: John 14:16-24 Deep association with a “ring leader” that’s out of this world
Marching to a Different Tune: 2 Pet. 3:9 God is “not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” and be saved. Prov. 14:12, 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, But it’s end is the way of death.”
This is the way it can be with those who profess saving faith in Jesus Christ. To the extent we throw ourselves over to God’s view of this world and what is most important to Him, is the extent to which our actions will be controlled by Biblical guiding principles and the result being others, believers and unbelievers alike, will “see” a difference. Our actions will attest not unlike Christ’s actions – Himself. He was viewed as an “outlaw” by the established institutions of His day – first and foremost by the religious ones! If you’re not on board with the Kosmos’ status quo, you’re an “outlaw”!
These guiding principles are sometimes revealed to others through seemingly bizarre actions. The thing is, they aren’t so bizarre when the underlying world view driving them is understood. In our case, with Christianity, we’re dealing with the truth delivered to us by God Himself – A truth about our world that can, and does, rock the foundations of our own world views. And it’s a truth about our world that can guide what we say and do – If we let it. It rearranges our value systems so that we know what “hills we are willing to die on” with our kids, friends, neighbors and work associates. I’m challenged by that!
“The Isaiah Apocalypse” – God Will Burn It Down, Then Raise It Back Up:
I wanted to highlight two contrasting world views described by God Himself. Isaiah 23 is all about the pride of man, and his dealings about the face of the earth contrasted with God’s loving agenda. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 say the same thing, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But it’s end is the way of death.”
D.A. Carson describes how much of the world lives, this way – “Isaiah’s prophesies against the nations started in the east with Babylon (ch. 13) and ended in the west with Tyre in Phoenicia. Tyre was a major trading center with a large sea port. Man’s kingdom epitomized. It was a very wealthy and very evil place. Whatever the historical pressures that brought about Tyre’s destruction, Isaiah wants us to know it was the Lord’s doing. In the end, her sin is not money but pride: “The Lord Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all and glory and to humble all who are renowned on earth.”
This passage is comparable to the one who describes the man who built his house on the sand, as opposed to a rock foundation. The rock foundation is, of course, about the man who lives his life for Christ and plays a role of building God’s kingdom. If we build on the sand, we build into man-made kingdoms. When the storm comes (ie when the Lord comes back for those who are saved), that storm washes away everything the worldly man has built and he is left with nothing!
Yes there will be an end! There will be a final accounting! His delay illustrates a “tune” and timing that’s different than ours. It also illustrates His great forbearance (2 Peter 3:9). Have I adopted this vision – really? When He does come back it will be the end of things as we know it. What is the point? What Kind of people should we be (2 Peter 3:12)?
Those of us who have come to Christ understand and know when we are building on what’s most important to God. “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:16) I believed I’ve sensed this most, when witnessing to other people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (that great illustration of God’s love). God is a game changer.
The World’s View – “Outlaws” Defined (Referenced at Wikipedia):
1. An outlaw or bandit is a person living the lifestyle of outlawry; the word literally means “outside the law “.
Though the judgment of outlawry is now… romanticized, outlaws became stock characters in several fictional settings. This was particularly so in the United States, where outlaws were popular subjects of newspaper coverage and stories in the 19th century, and 20th century fiction and Western movies (Outlaw Josie Wales clip). Thus, “outlaw” is still commonly used to mean those violating the law or, by extension, those living that lifestyle, whether actual criminals evading the law or those merely opposed to “law-and-order” notions of conformity and authority (such as the “outlaw country” music movement in the 1970s).
2. Law is a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people. Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared, “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual.”
The System For Progress? (more Wikipedia)
“In a typical democracy, the central institutions for interpreting and creating law are the three main branches of government, namely an impartial judiciary, a democratic legislature, and an accountable executive. To implement and enforce the law and provide services to the public, a government’s bureaucracy, the military and police are vital. While all these organs of the state are creatures created and bound by law, an independent legal profession and a vibrant civil society inform and support their progress.”
But of course the Royal law of Christ, from our Father in heaven, trumps any other law man can produce. In the Eyes of Satan, we are outlaws and bandits stealing lost souls out of his darkness and pointing the way to God’s light (Isaiah 24:14-23, Revelation 21:23).
People apart from God die together, while the people of God are free to learn real love and live together – for eternity.
The timing of the creation of this old video is interesting – the year before the Kent State shootings of 1970.
Red Skelton was a funny guy. I remember him (I was 12 and didn’t know Christ from Satan, although I think I had some vague belief in a god). At the time of this video, there were a lot of people (mostly young and sort of hippie types 😉 who were bucking the establishment – and not all of their reasons were bad. They lost faith in the status quo, world system. But, their solution was a bit misguided and they looked in so many wrong places for the love and justice they desired (sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it?).
I think I understand where most of you are coming from… and most of you may actually know Christ – praise God. However, please allow me to very respectfully share a little different spin on this.
Even if the government gives us its blessing on praying prayers and mentioning God in song at your local public school, it does not automatically follow that spiritual revival will come to the hearts and minds of people in this country – or any other country for that matter. God’s priority is clear…
…God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Tim 2:3-4 (NASB)
It’s because of my relationship with Christ, through forgiveness of my sins, that I am able to tell others about the love of God through Christ. So it’s me speaking the truth in love to fellow believers (for personal growth) and speaking the truth in love to those who don’t know the good news while working in tandem with the Holy Spirit, is what will really have impact in a dark and dying cosmos. When I exercise faith in Christ I can go anywhere I want to pray, or preach, the gospel. That’s my freedom in Christ. And – that is a very God given power. So, I don’t need to have the government tell me I can do that – God has already given me all the encouragement and support I need.
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” Matt 28:16-20 (NASB)
Let us not be misguided and weak (believe me, I can relate to how easy that is because I’ve been there and done it). But, take courage and speak it forth in love! There is a way to be respectfully bold and know where the power lies.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NASB)
This was inspired by the Newsweek report about “the Post-Christian Era” in America written by Jon Meacham.
My two cents…
As long as there are Christians in America, there will be Christian influence. But, not the kind of influence most might imagine. God’s goal has never been to establish a Christian Nation on earth. His goal has always been to redeem mankind back to Himself through Christ, establishing His new Kingdom and abolishing the old one which has been ruled by the prince of this world who is Satan (John 12:31). God has chosen to give us a personal, and an amazingly significant role in His supreme plan of redemption (2 Corinthians 5:20). He has chosen to do it through His church even if that church consists of just two people (Matthew 18:20). Interestingly, Christ doesn’t even refer to the entity as “church”, but as “there I am in your midst” (pretty upfront and personal).
Christ’s prayer was that we would be one like He and the Father are one (John 17:21). If anyone responds to God’s good news the way God requires, he can then “abide in Christ” with the result being “much fruit” (ie. many others saved)(John 15:3-5). All authority has been given to Christ in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18-20). What political, or religious system for that matter, will ever deter God’s will? The Pharisee Gamaliel spoke particularly good wisdom on this in Acts 5:38,39 (27-42 for context).
On the personal level, can we not influence others for Christ without a compliant political landscape? Well, it’s not like it’s not been done before. And further, Christ promises we will run into opposition doing it (John 15:18-21). Even against the worst sort of persecution, political and otherwise, God has raised up churches – China for instance. In fact, often times the growth of His Kingdom flourishes in such hostile environment.
God will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18). God started with a hand full of people and now He works with millions in every kind of political landscape possible.
The ‘church’ in America may very well be largely apostate on the one hand, but on the other hand there has never been a more fertile ground within which to plant the seeds of God’s word – even if it is by just one or two faithful people sold out to God and His loving motive. And here, we are free to speak!
Not sure I care as long as freedom of speach can be maintained in America’s ‘public square’. But, then, I sort of feel wimpy just saying that – you know, I like my comfort. …Stand up!
I learned something new October 2nd, 2008 – The Onion is a satirical news magazine. And I was so hard on those gullible people! 😉
Knowing what I now know, I should have written more like this (refer to my first blog first for background)…
This would be laughable if it were not plausible in today’s society. If it were true, Richard Dawkins would call it child abuse based on his book “The God Delusion”. It’s like Christian infant baptism or Christians visiting supposed crying statues of Jesus, the miraculous appearances of mother Mary images on the side of water tanks and the deification of ‘Darwinian evolution by natural selection’ by some, apparently, very serious people.
Anyways, as a Cleveland news broadcaster recently reported, there is a statue of Jesus, who some folks actually believe is crying its eyes out! Okay, so what?
I think one reason some folks are so quick to believe stuff like this is because of what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:4,
in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (speaking of images).
In 2 Corinthians 4:18 Paul proclaims,
we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
And Peter in 1 Peter 1:8,9 says,
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
The Real Point
It’s interesting how easy it is for some folks to miss the main point of the video “The Investigation”. Maybe that’s because of the title of it, maybe not.
The video is all about the truth found in God’s written word. It’s all about God’s righteous condemnation of us because of our sin and the freedom from that condemnation through praying to God to receive His forgiveness – God giving us the amnesty, without which God’s style of freedom could not be possible. And, it’s also about the reality of the unbelieving people of this world misunderstanding, being confused and/or believing a lie about what God is really up to. But obviously, if people don’t believe what the Bible says, then obviously they’re not going to understand why the church teaches what it teaches and does what it does.
Blow By Blow
The first 5 minutes of the video are devoted to teaching the truth claims of the Bible. Another 6 minutes is devoted to the interview/discussion about the ‘non-criminal’ nature of the police report that names Tom Smith. About 2 minutes are devoted to the cult accusations followed by another 1 ½ minutes of the truth from God’s word. The “angry relatives” who filed the police report and picketed the Xenos Bible study, occurs 12 ½ minutes into the video, where three people are shown who are apparently convinced Xenos Christian Fellowship is a cult. The picketers are shown for 40 seconds and then the consequences of the accusations are described. The question is asked, “Is it worth it?” The answer from the video producer comes back with the unexpected answer of, “No Doubt!” Yes it’s worth it, because many people were being saved and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit! The remaining 30 seconds of the video shows the climax – people being baptized. In my opinion that is all this video does. It shows & tells the facts. Not all have the ears to hear what God is up to.
To sum up – As far as the video goes, about half of it was devoted to Biblical teaching, almost half to the police report discussion and seconds to the protestors. The live formal meeting probably ran as long as most do – about 1 hour. If my memory serves me correctly, the live Bible teaching lasted about 45 minutes. So, there is the context.
It’s Worth It!
From God’s perspective, “it” is so worth it that He even allowed His only begotten Son to endure the cross at the hands of sinful mankind, in order that salvation might be made available to anyone who sincerely asks for it.
Picking a Fight?
Some might wonder if this video is picking a fight. From my point of view, the church I’ve been involved with for almost 25 years is being accused of being something it’s never been. If any fight is being fought, it’s the “good fight”. Paul refers to this in both of his letters to, the non-apostle, Timothy. That “good fight” is the winning of people to Christ. It’s the fight the Biblical message in the video proclaims. What a privilege it is to serve the living God in this way. To be used by Him to save people from judgment and hell.
Those that understand the Bible hopefully understand, one thing, it’s a spiritual battle God wants us to fight. And yet, that spiritual battle will oftentimes ruffle the feathers of those who don’t believe. It always has, and Christ promised it would not be different for His followers who boldly reach out like He did.
…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Eph 6:12 (NASB)
Personal & Public
The trouble is this “situation” has been made extremely personal and extremely public by the filing of a police report, by the phoning of public officials, by phoning the Akron Beacon Journal reporter and by launching an extremely vitriolic web page where spurious accusations abound. The video did little to advance what had already been done.
Investigations by all outside objective parties, found no evidence to convincingly conclude we are a cult practicing the negative things the public most generally associates with cultic behavior. In fact what has been revealed is we are a church practicing many of the positive things the public generally associates with church behavior.
Hope in Christ
It’s extremely unfortunate for the folks that launched these accusations. I’m not de-neighing the two families are hurting. But, it seems to me they’re hurting because of major misunderstandings. That’s extremely tragic. But, I do think there is hope. There is always hope with Christ.
I suppose NeoXenos could have just rolled over went back to sleep, but we weren’t asleep to begin with. We’re busy going about doing the work of God’s church as best we can – and the Lord has blessed us with much fruit. Lately, we’ve had to spend some time trying to explain some things. That’s ok – even if some can’t understand.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29 Romans 8:28 (NASB)
A Special Collection Of Quotations From Great Minds Throughout History
I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.
– Abraham Lincoln
Oh Lord, thou givest us everything, at the price of an effort.
– Leonardo Da Vinci
No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions
– Charles P. Steinmetz
If a book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But for God’s sake, let us freely hear both sides if we choose.
– Thomas Jefferson
Great thoughts come from the heart
– Marquis de Vauvenargues
Curiosity is the thirst of the soul.
– Samuel Johnson
The invisible order of the universe proclaims a supreme intelligence.
– Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Science brings men nearer to God.
– Louis Pasteur
Truth between candid minds can never do harm.
– Thomas Jefferson
The visible marks of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of the creation that a rational creature, who will but seriously reflect on them, cannot miss the discovery of a Deity.
– John Locke
As a house implies a builder, and a garment a weaver, and a door a carpenter, so does the existence of the Universe imply a Creator.
– Marquis de Vauvenargues
It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being.
– George Washington
From a knowledge of His work, we shall know Him.
– Robert Boyle
We cannot fathom the mystery of a single flower. Nor is it intended that we should.
– John Locke
In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.
– Galileo Galilei
Of what I call God, And fools call Nature.
– Robert Browning
So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have exited thro’ all the time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe.
– Thomas Jefferson
Nature is the art of God.
– Dante Alighieri
The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.