ADMINISTRATOR’S NOTES —
The Great Christian Virtues
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
Make Your Calling Sure
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:1-11 — King James Version
The Potter and the Clay
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
Jeremiah 18:1-12 — King James Version
What we do, what we believe, how we act, what we think, what we say, what we don’t do not only makes or breaks us, can open the way to salvation and heaven for us, or lead us to hell and eternal damnation — but all we do, think, say, how we act, the words we use, our moment to moment example (are we a light unto the world so the glory of the Father shines through us?) —EVERYTHING we do determines not only our eternity but it impacts and shapes our culture. The world around us. The world we live in.
As believers if we shrink from boldly and openly and truthfully revealing to the world and those around us the transformation, the renewing of mind and spirit, and we do not appear different, peculiar from the world? We are none of His. He doesn’t recognize us. As the Apostle Peter instructs us; “For if these things be in you [the great Christian virtues and the abiding living Holy Spirit from a renewing of mind and spirit], and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (2 Peter 1:8-9).
Apostle Peter was not addressing the unbeliever, the heathen. He was writing to professed believers. Professed disciples of Jesus Christ the Lord!
If we follow the world’s culture and we do not shape that culture by our faith, by the truth of the inerrant word of God, if we do not speak, act, live, and believe as true disciples of Jesus Christ living the Living and Active Inerrant Word of God we are none of His and we are blind and barren and unfruitful. And we have failed and fallen.
Do we have the faith and boldness, the spiritual strength to shape and define the culture around us? Or do we permit the world’s culture to infect and make us barren, blind, and unfruitful being a disgrace unto the Lord our God?
A sinful nation is an abomination to the Lord and there are always consequences for turning from God and living in sin. And just as the words of the Living God came to Jeremiah at the potter’s, and Jeremiah learned God would reshape and make the people whole if they turned from their evil, turned from their sin and turned back to Him, so, too, God can reshape and spare us from being a failed vessel to be destroyed and He can make us whole and fruitful and well — if we turn back to Him. If we have the faith, the boldness to stand for Him and His word, stand as disciples of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Or we can be as those in Jeremiah 18 verse; “And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.”
We determine our eternity. Our every step, our every word, our every thought and belief and act determines our culture and the course of our nation.. No one is immune. No one is exempt. No one can hide. None have excuse. Are you up to living life as we are instructed we ought to? Or do you cave and fall and go in along with the tsunami of evil in the polluted torrents of the river of evil eroding the foundations?
~ Ken Pullen, A Crooked Path, Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
Who Creates Culture?
In today’s society “culture” is often discussed in very broad and generic terms. What exactly is culture? I believe the ideas, preferences, beliefs, and pursuits of the people who populate a given geographical space create the “culture” of that space. For example, American culture is determined by what we Americans think, what we want, and what we do. That means you and I create culture. Identifying “culture” is the most effective way to engage it with Christian dynamite.
The best way to impact culture is to connect the hearts and minds of its people with the Christian Gospel’s life giving power. Unfortunately, the Gospel is conveyed too often as stale and dry “religion” whereas it is actually the source of true life. Through the Gospel we can move from simply existing, to thriving according to God’s purpose for us. When we are empowered by the Gospel, our daily routine is transformed. Now we hop out of bed with the fire of God to meet the day’s promise. Add to that the joyful expectation of Heaven! That’s good news! The Gospel produces Christ-followers who understand worship is not a task to be done. It is a lifestyle to be lived.
We have witnessed a seismic cultural shift in the United States that mirrors the cultural changes that have occurred in other nations. The United States Supreme Court has kicked prayer out of public schools. It has also declared abortion and homosexual marriage to be constitutional rights.
Yet Planned Parenthood has been caught on camera selling murdered pre-born children’s body parts while our federal government has strapped us with hope crushing debt all while the size of government continues to swell. Racial-tension has reached levels unseen publicly since the 1960s and 1970s. Christians are hard pressed to find churches that preach God’s Word and stand on it unapologetically. As each day passes our culture gets worse and worse. It seems to have fallen off of a cliff. In short, our nation has rebelled against God.
American culture didn’t change in an existential vacuum. The ideas, beliefs, preferences, and pursuits of its people changed. Americans in large numbers think much differently today than the generations of yesterday. The core of that difference is our “shift” away from God.
Recently, I saw a story from a public school teacher where second grade boys discussed having sex with girls on school grounds during school time. Let that sink in for a moment. Second graders-presumably 7 year olds- were discussing how, when, and where, they had sex with girls during school time! When a nation rejects God it must face the consequences. And those consequences have shown up in every area of American life.
Jeremiah 18:1-11 says,
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.‘ (Emphasis added).
All nations remain subject to Almighty God’s sovereignty. Here, it was the LORD’s “house of Israel” that suffered a cultural nose-dive as a result of rebelling against Him. But the issue was not whether God had the power to change Israel’s direction. The burning question was whether each individual citizen would return from “his evil way.” God sent Jeremiah to provoke each Israelite to amend his/her evil ways and deeds.
The issue of our day is not whether God can change America or whether He can redeem our culture. Scripture is clear. The burning and most pressing issue is whether He can change us. Are we willing, individually, to humble ourselves under His mighty hand and invite Him into our lives so thoroughly that we recognize the evil inside of us and around us? Are we willing to repent and embrace His salvation? Then, having tasted the glorious freedom we enjoy in Christ, do we love our brothers and sisters enough to give them the truth? Just as rebellion against God carries consequences, receiving His gift of salvation carries with it benefits that have the power to permeate culture. Christ shapes our thinking. He transforms our desires. He governs everything we believe. He superintends our pursuits.
Jesus addressed faith in culture in the parable of the soils in Mark 4:7 when he addressed and explained the “seed that fell among the thorns.” He said in verse “Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.” Then in verses 18-19 Jesus said, “And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those that hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (emphasis added).
In this parable, the seed is God’s word (Mark 4:14). The Word is sown among thorns and produces growth initially. However, the seed-to-tree process suffers catastrophic interruption. The hearers of the Word, the seed recipients, allow the culture to lull them into personal decline and replace their focus with the cares of the world. They were ensnared by the deceitful rat race and money chase. Those who previously received God’s Word were now consumed by creature comforts, social status, and water cooler popularity. What was meant to grow into a tree of fruitfulness is choked off as a fledgling plant. Satan’s ploys don’t always come in the form of the Rodeo Drive style Hollywood sins. They sometimes come in more subtle forms, like things that strip your focus from the passion and conviction of God’s Word. They may seem harmless, but carry the wherewithal to make you unfruitful, even though you know God’s Word.
Peter echoed this sentiment in 2 Peter 1:8 when he described the conditions that could make a Christian “barren and unfruitful” or “ineffective and unproductive” in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a harrowing thought to consider that you and I, with our memory verses and regular Church service attendance, could become barren and unproductive in our knowledge of Christ. But the scriptures clearly provide that reality as a potential diagnosis should we allow the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts for other things to snatch our focus away from Christ and the centrality of His Gospel in our lives. I believe our Lord intentionally refused to specify what those “other things” are in Mark 4:19 that make God’s Word unfruitful. He left it wide open to provoke us to protect the integrity and vitality of our relationship with Christ and to vigorously combat anything that tries to de-throne Jesus in our lives.
Technology has made it possible for us to communicate without direct contact with each other. It has given each of us a platform to spread our message far and wide. We walk around with mobile pulpits every day. I believe the Lord allowed this to aid us in fulfilling the Great Commission. So, congratulations! If you are a born again Christian you are culture creator. You can show the world what it looks like when Jesus captures your ideas, preferences, beliefs, and pursuits. God doesn’t call super Christians to do great things. He calls those who are willing, and He equips them for the call He has given. How will you use your platform? Will you create the culture you want to live in? Or, can you be properly lumped in with those who are barren and unproductive in their knowledge of Jesus Christ?