Not Going My Way?

In case you haven’t noticed, things in the world are generally not going the Christian-way in politics, law, education, business, marriage, religion…or anything else.

Evil seems to winning all around us.

American Christians who once thought of themselves as the “moral majority” are now the “imperfect minority.”

We thought we could change the world through the ballot box.

We were wrong.

Call it “post-Christian” or whatever you like. The fact remains that Christian authors for the most part are writing about things that the majority of the world considers idiocy.

This reaction is actually not that big of a surprise.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, first chapter, verses 18-31 contain a simple explanation of the world into which we publish and the challenge for the Christian communicator: (From the New Living Translation)

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

(Isaiah 29:14)

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.  It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:24)

Christians around the world look at America through a number of lenses. One of them is not envy. In fact, while most believers around the world yearn for the freedom to worship we have in this country, they are concerned by our lack of dependence on God, and an insidious culture that combines faith and self-interest into a strange new religion of comfort and personal fulfillment.

Some churches in other countries are sending missionaries to the U.S.

Most Christians in the world live under various levels of attack and persecution. And they tend to flourish in their faith because of it. Something about heat refining gold and pressure making diamonds.

Today is election day in some parts of the U.S. and a year from now, voters will elect new or re-elect current leaders to solve all our problems.  Two thousand years ago when Jewish leaders discovered Jesus wasn’t going to get rid of the Roman occupiers and wasn’t the kind of “savior” they wanted,  they killed him. He didn’t play the political card.

So, get ready Christian authors and publishers. Be prepared to be strong and courageous, two traits we haven’t needed to exhibit much at least in the U.S.

Who knows, maybe persecution is the missing ingredient to church-growth and the expansion of Christian publishing.

We always had God, the Bible and the U.S. Constitution on our side to protect us, but now it seems like we only have God and the Bible to depend on.

I assume that was God’s desire for us all along.

19 Responses to Not Going My Way?

  1. Avatar
    Louise M. Gouge November 3, 2015 at 5:21 am #

    Thank you for this inspiring post, Dan.

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    Jackie Layton November 3, 2015 at 5:24 am #

    Good morning! You’re right all we need is God and our Bibles which is God’s word to us.

    2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so Christ’s power may rest on me.”

  3. Avatar
    BILL NICHOLS November 3, 2015 at 6:00 am #

    Sounds like you have been watching the news while reading the Bible. Excellent job.

  4. Avatar
    BILL NICHOLS November 3, 2015 at 6:01 am #

    Sounds like you have been watching the news while reading the Bible. Excellent job.

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    Chris Malkemes November 3, 2015 at 6:26 am #

    You make good, true and lasting points of the generation we live in today. Our world is shaking. Who will be left standing? We’re being tested, tried, weighed and measured. Who will be found wanting?

    You, my dear agent, remind us Jesus whispered words of trust when He says, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”(John 13:7)

  6. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser November 3, 2015 at 7:16 am #

    Can’t weld without melting a little bit of metal.

    • Avatar
      Carol Ashby November 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

      Great image, Andrew. You can’t even solder without melting part of the connection. You made me think of a metal fabrication analog of the parable of the sower. I want to be welded, not merely soldered, and certainly not glued or rubber-banded to my commitment to follow Jesus.

  7. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser November 3, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    Dan, one thing I have noticed is that Christianity is alive and well in movies – and I’m not talking solely about Provident.

    In ‘Godzilla’, military men were shown in explicitly Christian prayer, and two families were shown in a very positive light.

    In ‘Lone Survivor’, the faith of Marcus Luttrell is a large part of what carries him through.

    The latest ‘Rambo’ uses intentionally uses Christian imagery – a small cross Rambo is wearing as a necklace-cum-bracelet at the pivotal scene, with this line – “Live for nothing or die for something. Your call.”

    Finally, ‘Fury’ is and out-and-out Christian film, and is built around Isaiah 6 – “Send me” (which scripture is quoted).

    Another Scripture ‘Fury’ uses is –

    If a man loves the world, the love of the Father’s not in him.
    Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes,pride of life,
    these aren’t of the Father, they’re of the world.
    The world and its desires pass away,
    but He who does God’s will is going to live forever.

    We’re having an impact. No despair needed.

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow November 3, 2015 at 7:48 am #

      I never despair. But anyone who thinks great Christian impact comes when things are easy and comfortable, they are mistaken.

      Seeds grow when they die. People earnestly turn to God when things are difficult. Your examples are perfect…all are examples of faith amidst trial.

      Persecution and trouble? Bring it on and watch God do great things.

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    Jeanne Takenaka November 3, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    Spot on, Dan. As I read your post, I kept thinking about a missions trip I went on to the Philippines many years ago. Where I brought fiction to read on the plane, and I had my Bible for my quiet times, one of the friends I made there read her Bible every spare minute she had. I was so convicted by her passion and my seeming lack of passion.

    We in the US are blessed with abundance. When we look to that for comfort, help, identity, we turn our backs on God. I believe persecution is coming for us here in the US. We’re seeing the beginnings of it now. We can turn toward God or away from Him. Leaning on Him will be the strength that brings us through.

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    Craig Pynn November 3, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Great post, Dan. Any Christian who thinks we can prevail via the ballot box has not been reading his or her Bible. I think it was Peter who speaks of us being “resident aliens,” but also being a royal priesthood. We are commanded to love our neighbor, not whine about our circumstances.

  10. Avatar
    Lisa Godfrees November 3, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    Hi, Dan.

    I’ve been following the posts on this blog for a while. I’m more of a lurker than commenter. I wanted to stop by and tell you that I enjoy your posts, this one in particular. This line stopped me in my tracks: “Some churches in other countries are sending missionaries to the U.S.” Keep speaking truth!

  11. Avatar
    Carol Ashby November 3, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    The inroads of hostility to God into American life have been there for the alert to see for at least 20 years. Christian friends used to think I was a bit crazy when I said a time of persecution would come in my lifetime. Most are no longer laughing at me. The recent move, Do You Believe?, is spot on, and I heartily recommend it. I’ve worn a cross for years as an open invitation for discussion of Jesus. Now I sometimes get hostile looks when someone notices it.

    But there is absolutely no reason to despair. The times do make clear that our American complacency about obeying the Great Commission has brought us to this point. During a time when it often carried a death penalty to follow Jesus, Christianity supplanted the violent, polytheistic culture of the entire Roman Empire in a mere 300 years. To be Christian in name only and not truly be willing to follow Jesus even if it costs a lot – what good does that do for a human soul? Or for the society around us?

    At least today molecular biology has advanced enough that it is easy to prove, using only dice-rolling probability and the observation that left and right hands are not identical, that life is chemically impossible without a designer directing the process. The wisdom of the wise, when it is math and scientific facts, can be used to prove the existence of a deity in less than 10 minutes. Then it becomes a discussion of who is the designer, does he care about me as an individual, and what is he willing to do to have me with him. Our assignment from Jesus is to share the information to crack open the door. The Holy Spirit flings it wide open and closes the deal. The science-oriented website I mentioned in yesterday’s blog will be a place where I can share what I know of science and God with seekers and with fellow believers who want tools for their own sharing. If I do it right, I expect hostile attacks from those who want to deny the reality of God, like Romans 1 describes.

    I never planned to write fiction until God put it on my heart to write novels that are stories of the human dilemmas, romantic and otherwise, of realistic people wrestling with whether to believe in a time when the decision carries high-stakes consequences. Sound like today? I hope the novels will both encourage believers to strengthen their commitment to take difficult stands for Jesus and provide something to share with a friend who loves a skillfully crafted story but isn’t drawn to Jesus…yet.

    Will they sell in today’s market? I certainly hope so since there is no point in writing something that no one reads. I’m trying to make them top quality so they will. Is the point big sales numbers? Yes, but mainly because we want to use the royalties to fund oversees orphanages and churches. God has blessed us already with enough. Is the real goal to inspire and attract by spotlighting powerful faith that strengthens its owner and irresistibly draws an unbeliever to accept Jesus as Lord? Absolutely! If I can achieve that even for a handful of readers who didn’t follow Jesus, I will be ecstatic. Writing these novels is another way I feel God has called and equipped me to play my part in fulfilling the Great Commission.

    I don’t want to ever have it said of me that there wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict if I were tried for being a Christian. God has placed each of us in our own battlefield, and the war is heating up. Onward, Christian soldiers!

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    Sally Bradley November 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Thank you, Dan! Great post today.

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    Jackamo November 3, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    Amen brother.
    When the world tries to push us aside and abandon us, this is always the time God brings great revival.

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    Linda Riggs Mayfield November 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    Dan, That’s a compelling challenge. I’m wrestling with living the reality of being a resident alien: not at “home,” but privileged to be here; grateful for the opportunity; committed to making the place better; and sharing with the citizens of this world that the one in which I hold my real citizenship and to which I will go can be theirs, too, because of Jesus. This universe is going to be rolled up like a scroll when its purpose is done, but that home is eternal. Are my faith and commitment strong enough for the growing persecution that is becoming increasingly evident? Am I using my resources–personal, monetary, and otherwise, to build into ours and the next generations the kind of faith and commitment they will need? I know how inadequate I am for the task, but there can be no other choice.

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    Peter DeHaan November 4, 2015 at 3:41 am #

    What amazing opportunities this gives to us Christians who write.

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    Dena Netherton November 5, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    Dan, a few years ago a Russian missionary pilot came to our small group to share about his ministry. He also spoke about their great poverty and hardships. After his talk, I remarked how concerned we were for all the things they did not have. He said he felt sorry for us in all of our wealth because we did not see our “constant need for Jesus.” Well, the times are changing, and I agree with you: we will soon feel the “constant need for Jesus.” Our country is now under God’s judgment, but this is also the Christian’s opportunity to grow in God’s grace and be a testimony to the world of the faithfulness and greatness of our Lord Jesus.

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