Illustration results for challenge
Insurgency! (11.08.05--Christian Soldiers!--Revelations 12:7)
What war? That was the response that I got from a friend recently when I referred to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a war. I looked at him and asked: “How would you define a war?” His response? “A war is when freedom is at stake and our well-being as a nation is challenged. I don’t see how anyone could define what is happening in Iraq in these terms!”
Because Pearl Harbor had not been bombed by the Japanese or the Lusitania had not been sunk by the Germans, my friend simply could not equate the events in the Middle East with his understanding of what war is. Even though the Twin Towers had been attacked and thousands more had died than on the Lusitania or at Pearl Harbor, the fact that it was not a “definable” enemy made all the difference in the world to him. If he couldn’t put the face of a nation on the face of an enemy, he could not equate the struggle against international terrorism as a legitimate war.
But, what about the battle against Satan and his minions? Do Christians take a similar viewpoint on who is the enemy and who is not when it comes to the war against God and His people here on earth?
In his book which provides a statistical analysis of religious beliefs in America, George Barna cites several fascinating statistics which are based on a national survey. In chapter four he states, “The Devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” Then asking that segment of his survey respondents who have identified themselves at being Christians, he states, “Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with that statement?” The population reply with 32 percent agreeing strongly, 11 percent agreeing somewhat and 5 percent did not know. Thus, of the total number responding, 48 percent either agreed that Satan is only symbolic or did not know! (What Americans Believe, pp. 206-212).
What a shame that so many Christians aren’t able to put a face on the enemy when it comes to the most crucial and fearsome battle ever fought on the face of this earth--the war against God. Declared long ago when he was thrown from heaven, Satan has been waging an all-out battle against God since the beginning of time. Although Christ crushed Satan on Calvary, he is still a dangerous foe. Like the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, He lurks waiting to bring his brand of terrorism to bear against any unsuspecting Christian unwilling or unable to see his face as that of the enemy. Now is not the time to drop the shield and sword. The Devil is for real and his war against you and I will not end until Jesus returns. Until that time it is our responsibility to know who the foe is, believe that he is powerful, and join actively in the fight.
THE 100 THING CHALLENGE
Have you heard about the 100 Thing Challenge? It's a "grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items." It was started by on-line entrepreneur Dave Bruno, who believes in this simple truth: "Stuff starts to overwhelm you."
You should set aside a few minutes to read the whole article. It's filled with interesting quotes and stories from folks who have taken on the challenge. I also found the section featuring professional organizer Julie Morgenstern to be engaging if only because of the acronym she lives by: SHED--"Separate the treasures, Heave the trash, Embrace your identity from within, and Drive yourself forward." Not sure I need to list for you the angles on this one, but here goes: materialism, consumerism, identity, the tension of treasures (earthly/kingdom). (From Preaching Today).
We live in a world that has shaped our priorities, skewed our perspectives, and taught us what to value. Rather than permitting God to challenge those values--to confront and replace them--a great deal of energy is expended in the attempt to win God’s approval and support of the values that God actually detests. We want God to baptize our standard of living, our pursuit of financial security, our accumulation of money. We want his approval of large houses, large bank accounts, large credit card limits. We want him to look at our consumer culture, our capitalistic dreams and pronounce, "It is good." It is all theological smoke and mirrors, imposing on God a value system that is foreign to his very nature. It is culture dictating the shape of faith. And, in this, we are culture's collaborators.
Two Horses ~ Author Unknown
Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.
>From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if you stop your
car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing.
Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind.
His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home
This alone is amazing.
If nearby and listening, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around
for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller
horse in the field.
Attached to her halter is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know
where she is, so he can follow her.
As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see how she is always
checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk
to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray. When she
returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, she stops occasionally
and looks back, making sure her friend isn’t too far behind to hear the
Like the owner of these two horses, God does not throw us away just
because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges. H...
GENERATIONS AND THE BIBLE
A new research report from the Barna Group examines recent nationwide studies on how different generations of American adults view and use the Bible. For the purposes of this research, the Mosaic generation refers to adults who are currently ages 18 to 25; Busters are those ages 26 to 44; Boomers are 45 to 63; and Elders are 64-plus.
There is often more that unites the various generations than divides them. The Barna research regarding the Bible confirms the central role this revered text has for most Americans. A majority of each of the four generations believes that the Bible is a sacred or holy book. Another commonality is that millions within each of the generations report reading the pages of Scripture in the last week.
There is also significant generational overlap regarding people’s views on the nature of the Bible. Similar proportions of the generations embrace the most conservative and most liberal views. For instance, the highest view of the Bible is that it is the actual word of God and should be taken literally, word for word, is embraced by one-quarter of Mosaics (27%), Busters (27%), and Boomers (23%), and one-third of Elders (34%). The extreme view on the other end is that the Bible is not inspired by God is embraced by proportions that are also statistically close to one another, including Mosaics (25%), Busters (19%), Boomers (22%), and Elders (22%).
However, despite these similarities, the Barna studies show that the youngest generations are charting a new, unique course related to the Bible. Here are the types of changes being forged by young adults:
Less Sacred: While most Americans of all ages identify the Bible as sacred, the drop-off among the youngest adults is striking: 9 out of 10 Boomers and Elders described the Bible as sacred, which compares to 8 out of 10 Busters (81%) and just 2 out of 3 Mosaics (67%).
¡öLess Accurate ¨C Young adults are significantly less likely than older adults to strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Just 30% of Mosaics and 39% of Busters firmly embraced this view, compared with 46% of Boomers and 58% of Elders.
More Universalism: Among Mosaics, a majority (56%) believes the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts, which compares with 4 out of 10 Busters and Boomers, and one-third of Elders.
Skepticism of Origins: Another generational difference is that young adults are more likely to express skepticism about the original manuscripts of the Bible than is true of older adults.
Less Engagement: While many young adults are active users of the Bible, the pattern shows a clear generational drop-off, the younger the person, the less likely then are to read the Bible. In particular, Busters and Mosaics are less likely than average to have spent time alone in the last week praying and reading the Bible for at least 15 minutes. Interestingly, none of the four generations were particularly likely to say they aspired to read the Bible more as a means of improving their spiritual lives.
Bible Appetite: Despite the generational decline in many Bible metrics, one departure from the typical pattern is the fact that younger adults, especially Mosaics (19%), express a slightly above-average interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge. This compares with 12% of Boomers and 9% of Elders.
David Kinnaman, who directed the analysis of the research, explained that the central theme of young people’s approach to the Bible is skepticism. They question the Bible’s history as well as its relevance to their lives, leading many young people to reject the Bible as containing everything one needs to live a meaningful life. This mindset certainly has its challenges but it also raises the possibility of using their skepticism as an entry point to teaching and exploring the content of the Bible in new ways.
The president of the Barna Group pointed out that since many young people want to learn about the Bible it should be an opportunity for Christian leaders.Perhaps young people want to participate more in the process of learning, not simply attend Bible lectures or be trained in classrooms. Mosaics and Busters have come to expect experiences that appear unscripted and interactive, that allow them to be open and honest with their questions, that are technologically stimulating, that are done alongside peers and within trusted relationships, and that give them the chance to be creative and visual. Their expectations may or may not be entirely healthy, but without considering these issues, the Bible will continue to lose hold on the next generation.
Be Someone's Consistent Help
Paul, in his letter to the Hebraic Christians, makes this point:
"…exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." [Hebrews 3:13]
I will be the first to admit that when it comes to the inner-workings of my automobile that I know diddley-squat. Believe me, I know very little about the mechanical makeup of any car. I am what is known as "mechanically-challenged." But I do know of several guys that are very familiar about such things as internal combustion engines, the drive train and electrical system of anything on two or more wheels.
One such person is Dan Morlen, my mechanic! He seems to always know what is wrong with either of my SUVs when either is not quite running the way a vehicle should. All I have to do is call and then drop by his garage, and I know that I am going to be assisted in locating the problem. I also know that once the troubling factor has been located that he or someone he knows will be able to fix it with a simple solution and get my means of transportation back on the road.
Why do I know this as a fact? Dan has always been consistent in helping me when I need him the most mechanically: my Envoy or my Outlander is broken and needs fixed.
That is how God wants us to be within the community of faith: To be more consistent in assisting those who need our help, prayers and encouragement. Many today struggle with hardship and disappointment. That means it is the responsibility of a person's brother and sister in the faith to pick up the slack; to aid in putting the pieces back together; to be consistent in our efforts of brotherhood and sisterhood. We are called by the Christ to love those who are hurting and to stand by those who are suffering persecution for the sake of Jesus.
YOU KNOW CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE WHEN:
10) There are more pine needles on your carpet than on your tree
9) The credit card is smoked along with the turkey and ham.
8) It’s A Wonderful Life has been shown for the 13th time
7) A trip to the mall and back is more challenging then the Indy 500
6) The Salvation Army bell ringers start accepting credit cards
5) You are pulling an all-nighter because of the words
"Some Assembly Required"
4) Your Christmas list is written in black while your check book balance is written in red.
3) Santa’s belly is not the only thing shaking like a bowl full of jelly.
2) The NFL referees are not the only ones giving away games
1) The infamous fruitcake returns from it’s 12 months of hiding.
WHAT TO DO WITH LONELINESS
Lee Strobel writes: People today will admit any problem - drugs, divorce, alcoholism - "but there’s one admission that people are loath to make, whether they’re a star on television or someone who fixes televisions in a repair shop. It’s just too embarrassing. It penetrates too deeply to the core of who they are." People don’t want to admit that they are (sometimes) lonely. "Loneliness is such a humiliating malady that it ought to have its own politically correct euphemism: ’relationally challenged.’ Or its own telethon. Anything to make it safer to conf...
1 Thessalonians 5:18-5:18
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
1 John 2:15-2:17
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free quickly and easily. Always he kep his promise, but one time something went wrong. Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For 30 minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. Finally, after laboring for 2 hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! It had never been locked at all! But in his mind it was locked and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.