“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”—Winston Churchill
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”—Mahatma Gandi
[I write and post longer articles, but not much that is trivial. Who cares what I’m eating or what stray thought I’ve had? Table Talk, this site, is where I put my Christian thinking, so it should be the most significant. I mean for Bedrock to be almost as basic, but I discuss faith and freedom, the basics of citizenship in both realms—spiritual and earthly—for me they’re the Church and the United States. Then, I try to summarize and link from my Facebook page, where I also comment on lots of other topics as they come up. I have even set up a “Roger’s Rant,” that I haven’t publicized, just so I can go off when I feel like it (I’m not sure if that one should ever see daylight). Depending on your interests, I have some what I hope are useful material here, mostly on how to get along productively in the world and make a positive. Feel free to look around and let me know what you think.]
Does a man at or near retirement age still have a purpose, a life mission? I think he does. I don’t believe “retirement” applies to our Christian calling. We may or may not stop working a 9-5 job, but our work continues as long as we have a rational mind and ability to communicate. That said, a person’s “senior years” can be a challenge, especially with the damage done to savings and retirement in the economic crunch. It may also be frustrating for an older person to deal with changes in life and culture, causing some to want simply to retreat. I’m facing both of those challenges with limited resources for living and a sense that my home and culture are not changing for the better. The quotes at the top inspire me not to retreat or give up, and my calling in Jesus Christ was and is for life!
The challenge is to reconcile legitimate questions regarding my Christian convictions with my more personal fears and frustrations. Obviously, some things are too personal to discuss in a blog, but postings give me a place to try to get to the germ of them and find a positive but viable perspective. Posting them here means even strangers may comment on what I think and write, although I’ve learned that some of my “friends” can be pretty harsh!
Christians have an obligation, hopefully one that comes to be a pleasant kind of devotion to a friend (Jesus), to live right, to love others rightly, and to lead them to the right way to think, live, and love. When we do so, our lives are better; and when our lives are better, we have the best chance to make others’ lives better, too. I teach that the fruit of the spirit—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”—contain the seeds of the gospel; and, according to James “the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
Christians also have a duty to be good citizens because, in submitting to the authority of earthly government, we have the unique opportunity in the United States to participate in it. In praying for authorities, which we probably don’t do as much as we should, we also have the responsibility and privilege to influence them and government they lead. I have been really struggling with this. What can I do, and what should I do? Elections and politics are the lowest level of effectiveness, though not one we should ignore. I am more concerned about our culture and general freedom, which I believe to be under serious attack by what Bill O’Reilly calls SP’s or secular progressives (and, no, I do not agree with him all the time). I am a bit more specific; they are socialist, if not communist, anti-religious and anti-Christian, evolutionary in science and everything else (hence, progressive). Secular progressive or anti-traditional isn’t a bad way to summarize their world view if you understand all that.
As Christians, I don’t think we can ignore hedonism, narcissism, plain old pride and selfishness, and their natural corollaries, greed and lust for things, money, and power. God doesn’t prevent us from enjoying money or things, as long as they aren’t all we want. He does warn us to be aware that we can’t really accomplish anything with power; it’s not His way: “ ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord.” I think conservative Christians sometimes forget that when they get too involved in politics. We will never defeat gay rights, pro-abortion, or the like by political means alone; indeed, I’m not even so sure that the word “defeat” is the appropriate word to use. We have to win over people’s thinking, first and foremost, not to our political views, but to our love in, from, and for Christ! Unfortunately, we face a well-placed, well-funded array of opponents—the media, the education establishment, a host of vocal special interest groups, and basically the Democratic Party and its allies. We even face just plain self-involved, self-important Americans, who don’t want anyone to rock their boat, people who commonly deny any authority moral authority, affirm “tolerance,” but then intolerantly demand their own confident moral assertions (without any foundation).
Jesus said that we should be as “wise as serpents but gentle as doves” and that we should use “Mammon” or wealth without loving it. I think Christians and conservatives invest too much in the wrong places—earthly temples, political causes, and media-based efforts to reach the masses. I have long believed that God still wants us to change the world, one person at a time. Jesus discipled a mere handful, who birthed a worldwide Church and converted, in a sense, the most powerful government of the time, the Roman Empire. The power granted by the Holy Spirit (promised by Jesus) is, among other things, strategic power, the power of individuals multiplied geometrically, sort of like the original “multiple level marketing.”
Christians ought to have a significant role in the biggest concern of our day—the war on terror—because it is perhaps the greatest threat to our security and freedom, and it has a substantial religious dimension. It may indeed be the ultimate conflict between truth and untruth, between the true and the living God and one much-believed false god, a distortion of the real one. Strangely, in many ways, it is allied with many anti-Christian, so-called multiculturalists, who seem unable or unwilling to acknowledge the threat. Europe moved away from Christianity, opened their communities to numerous Islamic immigrants who chose not to blend into European culture, and now is quickly becoming a secular, hedonistic wasteland facing cultural annihilation. If we ignore the threat, the same lies in our future.
Christians not only survive, we thrive despite rejection and oppression. Does this imply we should ignore the threat and let it come? I don’t think so! The United States was shaped by Christian ideas like religious freedom, and the resulting liberty permitted the Church to influence the world and reach countless numbers of people for Christ, something no oppressed nation ever did or will. Some believe we approach the end of this age and Armageddon, and we cannot nor should not interfere. I don’t believe it’s for us to stop being and acting like Christians, whatever Providence has planned. If we cannot stop what is coming, then we won’t. I have always taught, “If the ship is sinking, then bail water. Even if we cannot keep civilization afloat indefinitely, the longer we bail, the more people we save.” It’s a little like a parable I’ve heard several times recently about a boy who’s throwing starfish stranded on a beach back into the ocean; someone looks at all the starfish washed ashore and says, “You can’t save all of them.” As the boy tosses another back into the ocean, he replies, I just saved that one!” It’s human nature to seek to consider the big picture, resulting in grand schemes or debilitating weakness. Transformative power begins at the personal level, “one starfish at a time.”
So, I ask, “Where do I belong in all this?” First of all, I am a Christian with all the personal commitments that implies. I am also an ordained minister who accepted a calling to serve God in serving the Church of Jesus Christ. I have always believed myself gifted to be more prophet than pastor, perhaps why I am not serving in a church today, although I am willing and qualified to do so. My prophetic calling led me into Christian peacemaking, something greatly needed today. I believe I am to “disciple peacemakers;” only after one understands individual peacemaking is peacemaking between groups or nations possible. I see peacemaking in 3 dimensions—peace with God, peace with others, and peace within as their logical order. I was a broadcaster for 10 years, making me a communicator in the broadest sense to fulfill God’s mission for me—prophetically ministering to Christians, discipling peacemakers, and challenging a broader audience.
Despite some reluctance on my part, the Lord moved me from radio broadcasting into teaching. He worked through my long-time interest in young people, whom I have befriended, tutored, and discipled all through my life. He led me into refugee tutoring, something I never could have anticipated and never prepared myself to do. God prepared me, and now He has given me yet another kind of calling to help this group of young people, especially those who have few others who really care. My involvement drives me to address the mess that is public education, since it does nearly nothing for these kids. It leads me to consider starting a Christian school for immigrants. It has reaffirmed my belief in “borders, language, and culture,” Mike Savage’s mantra (despite my patience with his abrasive negativity). In other words, we need to find ways to help the oppressed people whose national homelands are devastated by corruption, profiteering, and socialism; we need to control our borders and punish any who use a hunger for a better life for criminal profit. We must recognize that letting millions upon millions of them come here illegally isn’t a solution but merely threatens to create the same dire conditions here.
English has become the language of the world, and we need to make it our official language, require it, teach it to everyone, and teach it well. We need to make sure that the things that make America the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” and the place where such people so desperately want to come, does not disappear in a flood of foreign people encouraged by elites to live in ghettos of diversity. America may not exactly be a melting pot, but it must never become a divided smorgasbord of cultures. Instead it must continue to be a stew enriched by the diverse ingredients each citizen brings to the mix. Then America will always be America!
Lately, I’ve become a community representative to find host homes for high school exchange students from other countries. I’ve begun thinking of myself as a advocate for refugees and internationals, not just to help them prepare for their own futures, but also to build bonds of friendship and love across borders, past barriers of language and culture, and beyond the narrow-mindedness of xenophobia. Christians are to live by the Great Commandment loving neighbors both near and far; by doing so, we bring peace to the world, one person at a time.
As I originally wrote this post, I was reading Doug Giles‘ The Bulldog Attitude. It encouraged me to pursue my mission aggressively, with an intent to succeed. I like Giles and his no-nonsense approach. You can read some of his thinking, and I recommend you check him out. His book suggests that it’s better to be a bulldog than to be a poodle. I’ll buy that! In my various pursuits, in the diversity of God’s calling, I should never be half-hearted.
(updated, August 8, 2012)