Unforgiveness

Posted on by Thomas Smith

Unforgiveness is the number one obstacle to God moving in our nation or in our hearts. It is the greatest obstacle to Churches growing. Almost everyone has hurts that have not been resolved. Grudges tht they are holdin gon to tlike they were some kind of treasure. Some Kind of a Treasure!

We cannot look to others to start to unravel the tangle of emotions and feelings. We have to start vertically looking at our relationship with God. How many times have our actions, thoughts, lives been displeasing and hurtful to god? We offend God but God is not offended. He provides a way forward.

In the Old Hebrew Testament the way forward was by strict adherence to the Law and for priestly sacrifice of various animals on the Altar in the Temple. When man made things too complex to follow, when the Law became cumbersome, God brought Christ into the World, the new covenant so that His blood on the Cross covered all our sin. Forgiveness was in place.

Now it was up to us to accept and apply that forgiveness. Christ even taught us " forgive us our sins( debts, trespasses) as( just like) we forgive others. The question jumps up. If God forgives us like we forgive others then we really can see our problem. We pray it do we mean it?

 

Sin, one sin, they are all the same size in God's eyes separate us from God. They are not weighted. The world likes to think "3 good deeds ought to take care of that nasty thing." The only thing that takes care of that and all the others is accepting forgiveness in Christ and then letting the Holy Spirit help us give forgiveness or ask it.

Without it death is the result. Death of relationships, death of hope, death of a good life. and eventually death and separation from God eternally. The Bible says " If we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive".

If we allow unforgiveness in our personal lives we are inviting death to follow. If we allow it in Church we are telling God we dont really want you here and the Church will inevitably die as the Holy Spirit departs. If we are honest, loving, truthful, responsible for owning our own stuff then relationships heal, Churches grow and yes even our nation is made better.

"Choose to forgive" and see how much better things get!

The More Educated the Less you believe

Posted on by Thomas Smith

The More Educated the less you believe??

Dear Church, This a partial excerpt from Dr.James Kennedy who is citing a Pew research study that says in the general population it is true that there is a correlation between higher education and lower religious belief. But among educated Christians it is the opposite, the more education the deeper the religious conviction.
When you read some of Lee Strobel’s work( The Case for Christ) or Josh McDowell (Evidence that demands a verdict) or CS Lewis ( Mere Christianity) You dive deep into History, Archeology, and Forensic sciences to discover truth vs popular opinion. The Bible becomes well supported if you do and to others who don’t know, it is becomes a casualty of the Culture war we are in. Pastor Tom

Dr Kennedy asks:
“Why, overall, does faith decline as education climbs? Contrary to the belief of some, it is not because there you discover that all religion is bogus. No, it is because there you are told that all religion is bogus.
There’s a difference.
I have long been concerned with the tendency of many professors in secular colleges and universities who take it upon themselves to not simply educate, but indoctrinate according to their own predilections. It’s as if they are on a mission to undermine a freshman’s faith as a matter of duty. ( As in “God is not Dead”-the movie, my note.PT)
To make matters worse, many, many students entering college have never examined their faith intellectually. They have never been exposed to many of the arguments and attacks against their beliefs. Which means they have never been equipped with the responses to such attacks. So when a young study is confronted with challenges to their faith for the first time at the hands of an intellectual predator, the damage to faith can be severe.
Which raises the second question: Why are educated Christians more immune to this pattern? There are several probable reasons. Christians, particularly evangelical Christians, have taken the life of the mind and, more specifically, apologetics* much more seriously than other faiths. One is that it is a clear biblical mandate to know why you believe what you believe (e.g., I Peter 3:15). And while many churches have failed their students who are preparing to leave for college, many have not. They have solid worldviews, have been exposed to the more common cultural attacks on the Christian faith, and are able to engage the secular academic environment as a thinking, informed person of faith. (* defense of the faith)
But there’s an easier answer. Perhaps the reason Christians are outliers when it comes to the effect of education on their faith is because their faith stands up under intellectual scrutiny better than any other faith. When Christianity is examined, it’s not found wanting – it’s found more compelling than ever.
So perhaps the reason so many educated people are still Christians is because when it comes to the Christian faith, you don’t have to check your brains at the door to believe it. If anything, you have to check your brains at the door not to.
And here’s one Ph.D. who will put his name on that list.
James Emery White

 

10 reasons Millenials are backing away from Christianity and God

Posted on by Thomas Smith

Passing along a thought provoking article. Pastor Tom

Ten reasons millennials are backing away from God and Christianity
By Dr. Alex McFarland
College-aged millennials today are far more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated. This is true when they are compared to previous generations as well.
In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that millennials are the least outwardly religious American generation, where “one in four are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29.”
Just over 60 percent of millennials say that Christianity is “judgmental,” and 64 percent say that “anti-gay” best describes most churches today.
In ministry circles, it has long been reported that of youth raised in homes that were to some degree “Christian,” roughly three-quarters will jettison that faith after high school. Just under half of this number will return to some level of church involvement in their late 20s or early 30s.
It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God,” sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”
Why is this? Our most recent research, which includes dozens of interviews with teens, twentysomethings, professed ex-Christians, and religion and culture experts, points to factors like these:
1. Mindset of “digital natives” is very much separate from other generations. Millennials are eclectic on all fronts—economically, spiritually, artistically. There is little or no “brand loyalty” in most areas of life.
2. Breakdown of the family. It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God,” sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”
3. Militant secularism: Embraced by media and enforced in schools, secular education approaches learning through the lens of “methodological naturalism.” It is presupposed that all faith claims are merely expressions of subjective preference. The only “true” truths are claims that are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligations on human behavior. People today are subjected to an enforced secularism.
4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults. Many youth have had no -- or very limited -- exposure to adult role models who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to consistently living it out.
5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished. The little neighborhood church is often assumed to be irrelevant, and there is no cultural guilt anymore for those who abandon involvement.
6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality. The idea of objective moral truth—ethical norms that really are binding on all people—is unknown to most and is rejected by the rest.
7. Intellectual skepticism. College students are encouraged to accept platitudes like “life is about asking questions, not about dogmatic answers.” Is that the answer? That there are no answers? Claiming to have answers is viewed as “impolite.” On life’s ultimate questions, it is much more socially acceptable to “suspend judgment.”
8. The rise of a fad called “atheism.” Full of self-congratulatory swagger and blasphemous bravado, pop-level atheists such as the late Christopher Hitchens (whom I interviewed twice) made it cool to be a non-believer. Many millennials, though mostly 20-something Caucasian males, are enamored by books and blogs run by God-hating “thinkers.”
9.  Our new God: Tolerance be Thy name. “Tolerance” today essentially means, “Because my truth is, well, my truth, no one may ever question any behavior or belief I hold.” This “standard” has become so ingrained that it is now impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.
10. The commonly defiant posture of young adulthood. As we leave adolescence and morph into adulthood, we all can be susceptible to an inflated sense of our own intelligence and giftedness. During the late teens and early 20s, many young people feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. I did. The cultural trend toward rejection of God—and other loci of authority—resonates strongly with the desire for autonomy felt in young adulthood.
Finally, is it really any wonder that kids raised in the churches of 21st century America aren’t often stirred to lifelong commitment? Most churches are so occupied with “marketing” themselves to prospective attendees that they wouldn’t dream of risking their “brand” by speaking tough-as-nails truth.
For evangelical youth mentored by many a hip and zany “Minister to Students,” commitment to Jesus lasts about as long as the time it takes to wash the stains out of T-shirts worn at the senior-year paintball retreat.
It is true that our culture has grown visibly antithetical to God and Christian commitment. But in addressing the spiritual attrition rate of young America, it must be admitted that a prayerless, powerless church peddling versions of “Christianity Lite” share in the blame. God only knows the degree of our complicity, and also the time when we’ll be concerned enough to change direction.

 

Faith is waning in America? I dissent by lee Strobel

Posted on by Thomas Smith

When atheists claim there is no evidence for Christianity, I disagree.
When liberal theologians assert there are many paths to heaven, I object.
When young people say God isn’t relevant in the 21st century, I beg to differ.
When analysts predict the decline of the evangelical church, I roll my eyes.
Are my positions popular? Maybe not, but they flow out of convictions that have only grown stronger in the midst of the evolving religious landscape in America.
I’ve seen the surveys. I’m aware of the rise of the so-called “nones,” who profess no religious affiliation. And frankly, that doesn’t trouble me very much. Rather than claiming to be Christians, as many have done in years past, now these people are now willing to be more honest. Today it’s socially acceptable -- in many places even desirable -- to be a skeptic. “Atheist” is no longer considered such a derogatory term.
The truth is that America was never as much of a “Christian nation” as some historians wish it were. There was a veneer of faith over the land. “Respectable” people went to church. Now they don’t pretend anymore. That’s okay.
I was a scoffer once myself, before spiritual skepticism became trendy.  As a law-trained journalist at the Chicago Tribune, I didn’t have any patience for mythology, superstition, or make-believe. “Just give me the facts” was my motto.
My wife was agnostic. Then one day, through the influence of a friend and a church, she met Jesus. The first word to come into my mind: divorce. As portrayed in The Case for Christ, the forthcoming movie based on our story, I set out to disprove her beliefs and rescue her from the cult of Christianity.
Oops. After nearly two years, the scales tipped. Having encountered the persuasive evidence for Christianity, I concluded it would have required more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a believer.
I ended up taking a 60 percent pay cut to leave my journalism career and become a pastor. For 30 years now, I’ve watched the world from the vantage point of a pulpit. What’s the view from there?
More and more people growing weary of our materialistic and celebrity-saturated culture and instead finding exhilaration in Jesus. The proliferation of ministries that help the hurting, feed the hungry, and replace despair with hope. Addicts rescued. Broken families put back together. Racial reconciliation. Selflessness displacing self-interest. While some churches are closing, many of those with a relevant and biblically faithful message aren’t just growing -- they’re burgeoning.
In short, I’m bullish on Christianity. We’re entering a golden era of Christian “apologetics,” where scholars are sharing compelling arguments and evidence for the faith.
At the same time, our shrinking world has exposed more people to the stark differences between the world’s religions, and that is destroying the once-popular notion that they all teach basically the same thing or have similar grounding in truth.
I see throngs of young people electrified by their faith. Give me a hundred of them versus ten thousand with a cultural Christianity that doesn’t revolutionize their character or values.
Let me share a little secret. In our increasingly chaotic world, the Christian message of truth and grace continues to resonate among people who are tired of the shifting sands of post-modern relativism.
No doubt about it: count me among those who are optimistic about the future of the church in America.

Lee Strobel is author of the best-seller The Case for Christ, which releases as a motion picture on April 7.