“…It is ours to reflect the light.. and to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” — C.H. Spurgeon, 1879
It is not until you’ve been forced to wear a mask during a pandemic that you truly value the power of your face. No sooner have you exchanged glances with someone that you suddenly realize they can’t see your hidden smile, and you in turn have no idea what they might be expressing to you under that piece of cloth. It is in that awkward moment that you immediately comprehend how dehumanizing and frustrating it is to have your face so savagely removed from the process of interpersonal communication and emotional connection. No doubt this is why so many masked people these days seem to avoid eye contact altogether, walking past you like soulless zombies in a private hell.
For joyful Christians who demonstrate the grace of God through the social graces, this can be a difficult time for missional endeavors. As ambassadors for Christ who are called to be a light in this dark world, our shining faces are essential in communicating the Gospel to those with whom we interact during the course of our day. The Gospel, you see, is conveyed with more than mere words or deeds. It is a message of love and grace, fueled by the Holy Spirit, that can be powerfully expressed in the very countenances of our faces. Does the Scriptures not tell us so? (more…)
To be sure, Christianity in the West is showing signs of worldly wear and tear. According to many reliable sources, our numbers are dwindling, our historical churches are being shuttered, and our Gospel message is rarely heralded as boldly as it once was. The future of the Christian faith, it seems, is in question. And yet did you know that there are over 1,000 centuries-old trees throughout the United Kingdom whose symbolic strength and longevity still preach on the everlasting nature of Christ’s kingdom and remind us that God is still on His throne?
For hundreds of years, the European yew tree has been an enigmatic, but familiar presence within the hallowed confines of many old churchyards across the British Isles. These striking trees, with their sprawling limbs and green needle-like leaves, have been a constant companion to the faithful believers of Britannia since the days when the Roman Empire still ruled over that rugged northern province. Today, these churchyard yews, over 1,500 by recent count, are acknowledged as an enduring British symbol of Christendom. Out of that number, around 250 are considered national treasures due to their incredible age and size, like the Crowhurst Yew in Surrey or the Fortingall Yew of Scotland. (more…)
“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.” — Matthew 5:13.
The rage and hatred being exhibited in America right now isn’t something that just suddenly sprang up and pushed itself into our society by its own power. If our country was filled to the brim with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a vibrant Church, there would be no massive moral void for these anarchists and nihilists to expand their territory; nor would there exist the spiritual oxygen to fuel their fiery bitterness and spark their Marxist revolution. No, these angry agitators easily found their stronghold in the vacuum being created in the West by the retreat of Christianity and in some areas, the complete collapse of Christian influence. What we are witnessing right now is a spiritual crisis coming to a head in America.
How can this be, you might ask. How can a radical sociopolitical movement led by Antifa protesters and the Black Lives Matter organization find its power within the abandoned territory of a failing Christianity? Isn’t there a clear difference between issues of Church and State, or theology and democracy? The answer may somewhat surprise you: This isn’t primarily a political uprising we are seeing, but a new secular religion spreading an alternative gospel of socialist ideology in opposition to the traditional belief systems that sustained America as “one nation under God” for over 200 years. The seditious words and violent deeds of these social justice zealots show all the hallmarks of a religious fervor intent on establishing their one true “faith.” And those who stand in the way of their moral crusade will either bend the knee or be destroyed.
“He who has Christ has all he needs and needs no more.” — Jonathan Edwards
ONCE UPON A TIME there were four Inklings: learned men of letters who, despite their professions of faith, sought after a secret alchemy to transform the ancient stones of paganism into spiritual bread. For although they called themselves Christians, they did not wish to feed upon the perfect sustenance of God’s word alone through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Seeking to be wise, they became foolish, and exchanged the pure light of God for the mystical shadows of old, dead myths. They had forgotten that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!
Long ago, centuries before the time of the Inklings, great men of God foresaw this kind of folly. They knew that some, even after tasting the goodness of the word of God, would return like dogs to their vomit (2 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 6:5). The Apostle Paul warned that some would depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). And he pleaded with them to not be taken captive by philosophy and empty deception, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8).
Sadly, it appears, the four Inklings did not heed these prophetic warnings. They did not listen to the instruction of the Apostle Peter to “not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance” (1 Peter 1:13). Instead, these bright but misguided men, captivated by their old spiritual cravings, turned back to their precious myths and fairy tales from “once upon a time.” And in doing so, they routinely exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator.
Indeed, like Paul once asked the Galatians, we too might pose this heartfelt question: “O foolish Inklings, who has bewitched you?!”
Have you ever felt like a mouse running through a maze? It certainly is a common feeling among members of human society at one time or another. In our rodent-like existence, we are often spinning that hamster wheel, trying to win the rat race, or feeling like someone’s guinea pig. There was even a bestseller in 1998 titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” which used this man/mouse connection to create a self-help allegory for business success. But are we really better if we find the cheddar? We can only hope the cheese in question isn’t bait in a snapping trap.
Of course, this kind of metaphor isn’t surprising when we consider the fact that scientists throughout modern history have been using laboratory rodents to gain insight into the human condition. Early on, they found out that the genetic, biological, and behavioral characteristics of rodents closely resemble those of humans, and their ease of handling and quick breeding made them ideal specimens for most scientific research into the many disorders of mankind.
In the 20th century, however, psychologists began to adore these pink-tailed creatures as test subjects for their studies on one particular subject: human behavior. Today, because of how rodents react to various stimuli in scientific research, the world has adopted a certain view of what makes a human being tick. In fact, many public and private organizations have often implemented policies to guide human activity because of what scientists observed in their precious vermin. So if you feel like a lab rat being manipulated in an absurd experiment, you now know why.
Thing is, though, we might actually learn something about ourselves in the observation of mice.
“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch and be sober.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:6
The Christian dreamer is a rising phenomenon in American Christianity, and a sad blight upon the visible Church. Outwardly, the Christian dreamer seems wide awake to God, but his (or her) mind is elsewhere. He will claim Jesus Christ as his Savior, yet be found with his head in the clouds of fantasy, or asleep at the wheel of his idling discipleship. Often he yawns at the tedium of godly study and service, yet becomes absolutely giddy over the creative handiwork of the human imagination.
Perhaps you have seen this Christian dreamer. If so, you can surely spot his sluggish disposition. Unlike the aroused laborer-in-Christ who feeds on God’s word for the spiritual nourishment to serve, the Christian dreamer will prefer mythopoetic treats to stimulate his intellectual assent of God. He will often feast on the cotton-candy visions of fantasy fiction and movies that best serve his Christian romanticism. With a belly filled with the stuff of dreams, the Christian dreamer is intoxicated by the euphoria of his religious “feelings” and will soon nod off “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1).
For now, perhaps, the Christian dreamer’s slumber is undisturbed, but a rude awakening will one day happen when the alarm of God sounds off. According to Scripture, sudden destruction will come upon those in the middle of their peace and security and they shall not escape it (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Likewise for the Christian dreamer, the harsh reality of day will knock him off his fluffy pillow and toss him to his knees in judgment. Startled by his sudden predicament, this wide-eyed sluggard may then be heard to say, “Lord, Lord, do you not know me?” (Matthew 7:20-23).
Considering the deadly fright of the coronavirus pandemic, the violent political turmoil around us, and the increasing persecution of Christians throughout the world, perhaps this rude awakening will come sooner than expected. Then, and only then, will some professing Christians open their eyes and see the unmitigated worthlessness of their so-called “redeemed imagination” to help them escape from the sudden chaos of the real world. Running back to their precious fairy tales and Christian fantasies for a fleeting moment of solace will only delay the reckoning. Eventually, the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter will utterly fail them. To be sure, reality will sting even more when it smacks them in the face while they look the other way.
Sadly, this may be the only way for the Christian dreamer to finally “get it.” Apollo, Superman, Aslan, or any number of dream-gods cannot save you; but Jesus Christ, the living Savior, can and does. The true disciple of Christ isn’t a dreamer, but a doer. He has denied self, taken up his cross, and followed his Lord and Savior into action. The faithful martyr-to-be, the watchman at full attention, and the compassionate evangelist have no time or inclination for fantasy when they have lost everything in the world because of their bold and unyielding faith in Jesus. In the midst of the fallen world’s spiritual adversities, the supreme importance of active service to Christ makes the pursuit of dreams vain and obsolete, proving it to be fruitless and a thing of sin and idolatry that will burn up like straw in the fiery furnace of trials and persecution.
The noise of this world seems to be increasing to a dizzying pitch: a pulsating babble of glorified sin being loudly trumpeted through the megaphones of this age. Instagram, Google, Disney, and Netflix (among others) are the transmitters of a constant wave of subversive noise that inundates the soul’s receptors with a deafening blast against the truth of God. Without apology, these unholy instruments of digital dissemination have boosted the bass line of idolatry, lust, and pride until it sounds like a catchy pop tune to our tone-deaf society. Is it any surprise, then, that Satan himself is the hidden conductor behind this swelling dissonance?
Granted, you won’t find a Luciferian radio tower rising up through the stratosphere like a grotesque steel-beamed colossus, but one thing is for certain: Satan and his minions are flooding the surrounding airwaves with a high-voltage broadcast of toxic propaganda. Even at this moment, whether your ears are tuned to it or not, a cacophony of rebellious and accusatory rhetoric is being transmitted through the metaphysical air, bombarding mankind with an evil static that often permeates into the inner operations of the mind and corrupts almost every school of human thought.
The Bible certainly confirms this unsettling fact. It is no accident that Paul portrays Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The apostle’s inspired wording evokes a fitting vision of Satan and his unseen forces hovering like a menacing swarm under the firmament. According to John Gill, in fact, the people of Paul’s day were quite aware of a supernatural climate filled with a multitude of “noxious and accusing spirits, who fly about in the air.” Likewise, the Pulpit Commentary describes this “power of the air” as a strategic point of operation for winged demons to secretly “exercise a real influence on human souls, and draw them in worldly directions, and contrary to the will of God.”