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is the church relevant

Is the Church Relevant?

Our faith is under fire like never before. In our postmodern world, in a spirit of neo-orthodoxy, we must intentionally display a clear message. With every institution under scrutiny, a popular question today is, “Is the church relevant?”

The answer lies in how you define “relevant.” In our secular age, we have seen many words “reinvented” to display a totally different meaning to fit culture and convenience. Looking at the church it may not be an obvious choice for trailblazing, but it is the life of Christ in the church that will shape our lives.

The church was not meant to compete with the world, but to rescue people from it. This idea of a “tailored-made church” drives a lot of churchgoers today. People often know what they want but don’t know what they truly need. The church should be creative but not at the expense of replacing the message. Marketing and gimmicks draw in people, but what will cause them to stay in the church? Entertainment may draw curiosity and interest, but in honoring the Holy Spirit and preaching the Word of Life, lives are transformed.

What is the Church?

Traditionalism is on the rise with a lot of young churchgoers today. History and formality give a sense of stability and trust, but is the message pointing to a living Christ? The original purpose the church is defined as “called out ones to Christ.” The name clearly shows us that the greatest purpose in the church is to help cultivate a relationship with God and share it with a lost world. The church is defined in 1 Timothy 3:15: “…which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” If we use it for any other purpose it can become obsolete and irrelevant. The church is the revelation of Jesus on the earth. It is a place where imperfect people gather around a perfect Christ.

Understood in this way, the relevancy of the church is timeless.

The book of Acts shows us the New Testament church in Acts 2:41-47. We see the example, attitude, and mission of the church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had a need. Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

The new testament church is more than an organization it is a living organism. It is alive and delicate. If only thought of as a business, then the work will crystallize and the glory of God departs. People are the most precious part of Gods church; this is why our message and approach must care for their souls. As we cherish God’s house as a house of prayer and honor His presence, miracles happen.

The church is a work of God, not a work of men.

Three Types of Church-Goers

In this impressionist age, we have a unique opportunity as the church to speak into lives with meaning and purpose. Jesus was the master example of this. He lived the same way He died—with His arms wide open. As the church, we must seek to understand rather than to be understood. Reliability and relevance are seen in genuine care and in a non-judgmental approach. We see this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. The apostle Paul writes “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”  We are the hands and feet of Christ ministering patiently through the many layers of the human soul. The church is a place of compassion, empathy and transformation.

The multiple impressions and decisions made as a guest walk through our doors are staggering. The genuine and transparent interest and love portrayed speaks volumes. Learning their story and helping them connect to Christ’s life is the privilege of our mission. Their perception and concepts are dissolved as authentic love and truth are shown; they sense they are welcome and accepted. They are loved in their place like family. Our relevant and personal message speaks to their heart and answers questions maybe they didn’t even know they had. This divine initiation causes new thoughts and interests to emerge. As growth begins, they progressively discover their eternal purpose and value. We must resist the tendency to be like “the world”; to woo the lost through our doors. People are looking for more than entertainment or to be amazed by some show—they are looking for real life, love and answers. The impact of a meaningful encounter with God is revolutionary. Let’s invite, love and mentor those that are willing.

The Consumer

There is no perfect church. Often people hunt to find the best fit. Choosing a church like we would be choosing a car, based on preferences and how we feel when we are there is subjective and often misleading. Eventually, people get offended and migrate from place to place. If we take and consume things based on our wants and needs only, then we are stunting our potential growth. Growing in the church happens as we are submitted to the teachings and grow in obedience. This takes time and consistency to learn to bloom where we are planted.

Today, a popular concept prevails that Robert Bellah calls “expressive individualism — the belief that identity comes through self-expression, through discovering one’s most authentic desires and being free to be one’s authentic self. This powerful belief has weakened all institutions in society.” This sounds good at first, but—in the absolute sense—it is flawed thinking. If it is all about what I need, think and want, we are just consumers; we take what we need without regard to the needs of others.

The Hitchhiker

We can also be “hitchhikers”, selective and noncommittal, always moving around without real roots anywhere. The church is meant to be a generous lifeline that connects us to the life of Jesus.

Spiritual hitchhikers are like nomads, migrating from place to place without roots. It is easy to have this happen when we are not accountable. The average Christian has three different churches that they “dip into” for their spiritual walk. Thank God for technology and resources but who is personally speaking into our lives? Who is correcting us? What do we do when we hear a hard saying? How we answer these questions determines whether we are hitchhikers or not.

Will we “hit the road” or settle in and seek the Lord?

The Contributor

Everything in my life is affected by my walk of faith, family, career, and relationships can be rooted in me or in someone that is eternal. As we build our relationship with Jesus Christ we sense Him actively increasing in our everyday lives. His scarlet thread of redemption is through the center of life. We can be a monument of culture or trophies of God’s grace, both pointing to a very different entity. Culture is fickle, but God’s grace is never changing, it is the same yesterday today and forever.

The Problem

When we bend to culture and move away from reliance on the Holy Spirit, we lose something—our impact and witness. In today’s post-modernistic world, we see humanism which deifies man and underestimates God. Coupled with relativism which declares a personal interpretation to justify a lifestyle. This in turn births secularism, redefining terms to usurp absolutes and promote tolerance. How has this impacted the Church? The Emerging Church is born and an ecumenical gospel—without the cross and sound Bible doctrine—is preached. Through this progression, the unbeliever is desensitized to the things of God or in most cases doesn’t learn a clear picture of who God is and ultimately doesn’t see their need for Him.

Guarding the church against worldly ideologies is important in preserving the future of the church. One popular foundation is liberalism; me at the center. This system of thinking impacts churches were my rights and liberties dominate the understanding of privilege and responsibility. We are not to hide from the world, secure in our four walls, but our message and heart of love must be clear and powerful as we go forth into the world.

Here are some recognizable systems of thinking:

  • The end and means focus on securing happiness.
  • Egoism exalts the body over the soul.
  • Liberalism exalts the temporal value system over the spiritual unseen reality.
  • Hedonism promotes subjective belief that the goal is fitting the Bible into your life rather than surrendering to the Bible.
  • Pop-culture rallies herd mentality, this mocks the outspoken convictions and quiets the person, so they “don’t rock the boat.”
  • Personal expression rules over proven principals at the expense of logic.
  • Secularism redefines terms for tolerance and dismisses absolutes.

In contrast, the message of Jesus is life-giving. This message is one of a personal cross, where Christ at the center of my life, as in Colossians 2:13-15.

  • Sacrificing self-preference produces contentment.
  • We are not our own, we live for another who is infinitely greater.
  • Ultimately standing before a Jesus defines our decisions in time.
  • Christ is at the center of our priorities not sacrificing the eternal on the altar of the immediate.
  • Speaking the Truth in love without legalism.
  • No overestimation of self-importance, we are not the ultimate issue.
  • Hold-fast the Word of Life, our eternal purpose—we are God’s billboard.

Our Mission

You are important in the Kingdom of God. Your portion is part of every joint that supplies a healthy spiritual body in Ephesians 4:16. The church is a hospital, not a country club. It is designed to be a mission center for mobilizing the believer to be trained and sent out to serve, love and heal. Kindness is a powerful weapon that helps open the heart of the recipient and is a “tangible” demonstration of the love of Christ.

Our world is lost. Jesus is the Light that shines to those who sit in darkness in Luke 1:79. In the gospels, we see in Matthew 5:13-14, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

People are drawn to the light and life of Jesus. Religion kills and complicates the pure simple message of Jesus. Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of our faith—this is the glorious gospel. A dear pastor shared with me words I will always remember: “Our message of Jesus is our ultimate method.”

Preaching the heart of Jesus as an open hand and not a clenched fist, will draw all men. (John 12:32)

Our mission affords us to be gatherers and educators of Jesus. Complications and pain arise as we make our mission about ourselves. We must not gather around personalities or a “celebrity Christianity” but around an old rugged cross where we die and Christ reigns. The psalmist in 115:1, “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

The mission of Christ is powerful. The first letter in mission could stand for “momentum”—the inertia of an object that is catching speed as it moves. As the object moves, the velocity increases determining its ultimate distance. In missions, it is all about being moved in the Spirit. As we discover the “go” in the gospel, momentum begins to happen. Step by step, word by word, God gives the increase. Here is where the mission of the church is found in scripture: Joshua 1:3-6, Deuteronomy 28:13, Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 19:10, John 7:38 Acts 4:12. Here are the nuts and bolts of our mission:

  • PREACH a clear message of salvation.
  • TEACH to equip ministers of life in marriage, family, and neighborhoods.
  • REACH hands to the needy.
  • SERVE our communities by being the hands and feet of Christ.
  • CULTIVATE discipleship, mentorship and accountability in our walk of faith.
  • SHARE our faith, going into all the world.

We are on this earth not to be like the world but represent the kingdom of God. One day soon we will stand before Him. Are you prepared? We are either impacting the world or we are being impacted by the world. To be in the world not of the world is our mission.

How do you see the church? Is it your lifeline? or is it something we could be critical of and have a “take it or leave it” attitude. The church is a gift and a secret in today’s cynical world. “Where two or more are gathered I am in your midst” in Matthew 18:20. We must all realize that the church is full of imperfect people gathering around a perfect Christ. Celebrate the life of Christ, celebrate other believers and be part of a church community where you grow and make an impact for eternity.


www.jasonfmoore.com

 

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hippocratic oath allows abortion

Hippocratic Oath Changed to Allow Abortion

Originally an oath made to Greek healing gods, the Hippocratic Oath is taken by medical professionals around the world as an expression of medical ethics. An important change was made in 1964, however. Notice how the Hippocratic Oath has changed since inception.

Original Hippocratic Oath, translated into English

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

Modern Hippocratic Oath, most used today

In 1964, Dr. Louis Lasagna, former Principal of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences and Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, drafted a modernized version of the Hippocratic Oath. Notice the references to abortion have been removed. This is the version of the Hippocratic Oath that is commonly used today.

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given to me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

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a baby seal

Pro-Choice Argument: A Woman Should Have Control Over Her Own Body

In a fallacy that appeals to the heart, the arguer uses emotional appeals rather than logical reasons to persuade the listener. The fallacy can appeal to various emotions including pride, pity, fear, hate, vanity, or sympathy. The appeal to sympathy is actually a formal fallacy labeled ad misericordiam.

Generally, the issue is oversimplified to the advantage of the arguer. For example, in 1972, there was a widely-printed advertisement printed by the Foulke Fur Co., which was in reaction to the frequent protests against the killing of Alaskan seals for the making of fancy furs. According to the advertisement, clubbing the seals was one of the great conservation stories of our history, a mere exercise in wildlife management, because “biologists believe a healthier colony is a controlled colony.”

Have you ever run into this? For instance, take the following pro-choice argument. Is it a principle or a fallacy?

Pro-choice argument: A woman should have control over her own body.

This statement, while arguably true when applied to the individual, does not address a number of details.

First, her baby has its own body, brain, heartbeat, blood type, sex, and genes–half of which was donated by the father. Does that mean the baby is half his, legally? Or is possession truly nine-tenths of the law? This assumes we agree children are owned by their parents, of course.

Second, it neglects the controversy of whether it is a ‘fetus’ or a ‘baby’. (A popular Right to Life slogan is, “If it’s not a baby, then you’re not pregnant.”) If it is a fetus, a mere sac of blood and tissue, surely it is within a woman’s right to have it removed, the same as one would have a cancerous tumor removed. If, however, it is a baby (thereby implying that the woman is indeed pregnant and not simply experiencing a random growth or venereal disease), then one wonders what rights the unborn child is allowed to possess.

The “woman should have control over her own body” argument appeals to a liberal, human rights slant. It fuels the emotional certainty that we should all have consummate control over our bodies and what goes on inside them, while neglecting the same control for the unborn child.

In heated issues where positions are characterized by a high emotional index, it is common for antagonists to hurl fallacies at each other, but this is immature. When considering such a devisive topic as abortion, it is often difficult to separate emotions from rational debate (but not impossible.)

Pro-choice is said to follow from the widely accepted principle that individuals have a right to control their bodies. The counterargument would have to examine to what extent the principle is applicable. For example, do people have a right to kill themselves? To damage their bodies through self-destructive habits such as drinking, smoking, taking narcotics or mountain climbing? If yes, do women have that right in full when they are pregnant or do mothers have obligations to limit self-destructive habits when they are pregnant?

To the extent you weaken the premise on which the argument depends, to that extent do you weaken the conclusion for pro-choice.

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pro-life on capital punishment

Why the Pro-Life Movement is Quiet on Capital Punishment

  • If someone you loved was assaulted and murdered, wouldn’t you demand justice?
  • Wouldn’t you want to protect your family, friends and others from such a brutal event ever happening again?
  • Wouldn’t you want the murderer permanently removed from society?
  • To ensure a murderer never kills again, wouldn’t the surest and quickest way be to end the murderer’s life?

Throughout history, many cultures have supported the “eye for an eye” justice system, whereby an offender is granted an equal punishment to match their wrong-doing. In the case of killing another person, this often meant death.

When I first became involved with the pro-life movement (shortly after having a dream about the end of days), I was surprised to find most pro-life organizations do not take a position on the death penalty. While sanctity of life is often discussed in those circles, the tendency is to focus on right to life for unborn babies, the elderly or the infirmed. This may be for several reasons.

  1. The notion that life is sacred and worth protecting is an easier pitch when showing pictures of cooing babies or regal elderly than it is to argue a convicted serial murderer’s life has intrinsic value and should be spared.
  2. To be most effective, many organizations targeting cultural change opt to pick a single goal and focus on achieving it with laser-fine intensity. The idea is to achieve more with focused effort on a single cause than to thin your efforts over the herculean task of social change using a scattershot approach. In furthering the sanctity of human life movement, pro-life organizations predominately target protecting unborn babies. They do this through a number of activities, including lobbying, traditional marketing, educating and assisting community groups such as churches, pregnancy service centers and student organizations.
  3. Still, why not simply state a position on capital punishment and then let it rest at the sidelines? Why maintain a stance of “no stance” on the death penalty at all? There may be a feeling that addressing capital punishment—even at a surface level—gives the pro-choice opposition more ammunition. Think about it. If you are a pro-abortion leader who is trying to do your part to undermine the pro-life argument, which would you rather bring to your audience’s attention?
    1. The pro-life movement supports the right of the unborn to continue living; a right they say supersedes any desire the mother has to be free of the pregnancy. ~or~
    2. The pro-life movement wants to protect the murderer who slaughtered someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father.

Right. Option B would be much harder to defend.

In the United States, up until the late 1960’s, people were still being mob-lynched for race, religious beliefs and criminal activity. Other places across the globe are still seeing terminal mob-justice today. For example, following the earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010, suspected looters were lynched by angry mobs. In South Africa, drug dealers and gang members have recently been hanged by vigilante groups.

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

(Originally posted at prosanctityoflife.com on October 28, 2011.)

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rebellion

Pro-Choice Mom Believes Any Reason Will Do

Recently, I stumbled across a blog that stated the following:

“As you all know, I am pro-choice. I don’t believe in parental notification laws. I believe you can have an abortion for whatever reason you want. And yes I am a mother. And yes I was upset when I miscarried cuz that was a baby to me. However, IT IS MY CHOICE!!! And that’s what the abortion debate is about. […] Fine, if you are prolife. I don’t push my opinions on you and I expect you to do the same.”

A few things struck me here:

  1. This person is a mother and still believes—even after having gone through the whole pregnancy and childbirth experience—that abortion (the right to kill her baby in utero) is still something she thinks she wants to defend.
  2. She admits she is aware there is a baby within. (Pro-abortionists usually favor referring to an unborn baby as a zygote or fetus—anything to avoid calling it a baby, because really—who wants to kill an innocent, defenseless baby? Killing babies is just bad mojo.)
  3. She illustrates defensiveness over anyone telling her what she can and cannot do with her body. This appears to be the main foundation upon which she rests her entire pro-choice position. One can only wonder if she takes other physical mandates as personally. After all, it’s against the law to physically assault others with your body. It’s against the law to neglect buckling your body into your car. It’s against the law to walk in public while nude. We have all these laws that tell us what we can and cannot do, where we can and cannot go and even what we can and cannot say.
  4. She says it’s not her place to tell others what to do. Isn’t this what laws are? Rules, created by people, set to define appropriate behavior? We live in a world of laws; otherwise we live in a world of chaos. Daily, we choose to either work within those laws (citizen), without those laws (criminal), or on the laws (lawmaker.) Throughout our lives, most of us have donned two or three of these roles at one time or another, to varying degrees.

I think the most troubling idea here is the notion this mother knows there is a baby in the womb but thinks her “right” is more important than her baby’s life. Some questions I’m struggling with:

  • Does this rigidity offer her a much needed sense of control or certainty in her life?
  • Does she feel her life is so restricted by laws that tell her what she can and cannot do with her body that she simply cannot bear one more law?
  • Is it that she was influenced by someone close to her in her past and now subconsciously clings to the pro-abortion paradigm that was originally given to her?

And the biggest question of all:

  • What pushes this young mother to defend this pro-abortion mindset even after seeing her baby for the first time? Can a new mother truly look at her newborn baby after enduring 10 months of pregnancy’s highs and lows and think, “Yes, I should definitely have had the right to kill this child while she was inside my body?”

Really?

(Originally posted at prosanctityoflife.com on October 23, 2011.)

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