Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy…

Summertime is a little easier on most of us. Even if we have to work fulltime- there’s more sunlight and we tend to do pleasurable things in the evenings and on the weekends. This may be a bit different in the year of COVID, but to some extent the rules of summer still apply. This is also the time of year that newspapers and magazines publish those lists of books we should read during the summer. World magazine usually has a whole section on summer reading. I confess that most of those lists just give me a guilty conscience. I read one of the lists once and went down to the library looking for one of the titles. It happens there was a waiting list – so I put my name on the list. When I got the book, I was bored with it. I kept trying, but I just couldn’t get through it. I ended up returning it, half read, and late.
I have a little list for all of us today, that really shouldn’t cause much guilt – and in fact could be just what we need – spiritually – to recharge our batteries. I want to look at these four items just briefly.

1. Spend time with real friends.
Make time to get together with people that you like; people you trust; people who are good for you; people who won’t spend all their time complaining and being negative. (We all spend enough time with them, don’t we?). READ Galatians 6:2. The Apostle Paul tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the laws of Christ.” He wasn’t just talking about physical burdens. In this trying period, especially, may carry emotional, psychological, grief-related burdens.
So, besides, having time together to relax – you can consider this a summer project – to share burdens with others of like faith and general worldview. Remember always that sharing and burden bearing go both ways. Building a relationship with someone means being able to share your own burdens, too! In order to share burdens, you need to get to know one another; learn to trust one another. For some of us that’s a difficult thing. But God wants us to be brothers and sisters – not in the way we learned at home; not in the sense of sibling rivalries and all the other unhealthy behaviors we may have learned – but in the sense of God’s family. He wants us to love and trust one another – and bear one another’s burdens. That’s what brothers and sisters are for.

2. Spend time in prayer.

READ Phil. 4:4-7. God cares about us. He wants to hear from us. It doesn’t have to be a special kind of prayer you learned in church. Just a conversation w/ God. And it doesn’t always have to be asking for something – just a “check-in” is good!
Is this some kind of magic wand? No. But God wants us to have what’s good for us. Sometimes he even answers us in a way much better than we had hoped. When I lived on Grand Cayman, our water came from a cistern in the back yard. We had no other source of water. When drought hit our part of the island, the cistern got very low. We could see rain fall on other parts of the island. But not ours. The situation was getting desperate. We prayed for rain but none came our way. One day a water truck pulled up and the driver asked if this was the minister’s house. Then he proceeded to fill our cistern to overflowing. God had taken care of us and didn’t need our direction as to how.

3. Spend some time reading the Bible.

Besides being very instructive, the Bible can be very comforting. Here are just a couple of my favorite passages for when things aren’t going exactly the way I instructed God they should be going: Psalm 27:1; Psalm 62:1-2.
A few years back a friend of ours called –sort of out of the blue – and shared a verse with me that she had read that morning. It was a great comfort to her (READ Is. 46:3-4). You know, I found it comforting, too, to realize – again – that God isn’t going to forget about me just because I’m getting older. Just because I’m not the warrior I might have been a few years ago, I’m not less valuable to Him. AND this is not from just some nice book of parables and folk wisdom this comes straight from God’s Word!

4. Spend a little time w/ Jesus.

If you haven’t already – turn to Jesus for the best comfort you can get. READ Matthew 11:28-30.
Enjoy what you can of the summer. You won’t be going it alone.

Truth and the Spiritual World

In a day gone by – but not too long ago – in every schoolhouse in the nation you could the strains of the same song being sung by students and teachers alike:

The Age of Aquarius.
When the moon is in the 7th house

And Jupiter aligns with Mars,

Then peace will guide the planets
And love will fill your heart;
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.

This was more than a song: it was an anthem; a theme song; a spirit was in the air. Materialism; naturalism were being replaced by or, illogically, joined by, a new spiritual quest. People were beginning once again to recognize that they are spiritual creatures, but they didn’t know how to define it; and felt that they couldn’t count on the 

traditions of the West – like Christianity. So they sought wisdom from the East.

But neither esoteric spirituality, nor anti-Christian religion was new in what we call the New Age religions. Heresy was part of the Church from its very beginnings. This is why a series of “Ecumenical Councils” were held by the church over the first few centuries of its existence. This why such documents as the Nicene Creed and the Creed of Chalcedon came into existence, to clarify the difference between orthodoxy and spiritualist heresy.

One of the 1st heresies in the new Church was called Gnosticism. A secret-society type of religion with two different gods – a good one and an evil one, fighting for control of the universe. Gnosticism was also a popular movement, characterized by symbolic rites, mystic ceremonies, and the teaching of magic formulas. In the initiation into these associations strange formulas and rites formed an important part. Yet Gnosticism claimed to be Christian in character. Whenever possible, it appealed to the words of Jesus explained in an allegorical way, and to a so-called secret tradition handed down from the times of the Apostles. Many received its teachings as genuine Christian truth.

We see several modern cults with roots in the ancient heresy, most notably Mormonism and masonry; with their adherence to secret knowledge for a privileged class and emphasis on secret rituals and formulas.

But today, we associate spiritualism with something loosely called New Age religion. Though the New Age really escapes precise definition one thing we know is that it is not really new. It’s a blend of ancient heresies; humanism; eastern philosophies, native-American religions, and the fallout from the leftist counterculture of the 60s.

In the next few weeks we will look at a few of the common characteristics of the New Age.  

I’m Loving It. A Mini-Memoir

In the fall of 1965, I was stationed aboard USS Georgetown which was berthed in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (VA). Soon to be out of the Navy, I had decided I would attend college. I had never been to a college campus. I knew nothing about the whole experience. As far as I knew, I was the first in my family to graduate from high school.
I signed up to take the SAT test at Old Dominion College in Norfolk. I must have taken a taxi, but I arrived on campus, took the exam, and Lo and behold, I was accepted at the only college where I had applied, Southern Connecticut State College, in New Haven. On the date of my interview, I took a train from Providence to New Haven. Then I walked the 3.3 miles to the campus. Successful, I joined the crowd of incoming freshmen. It was an eventful four years which included marriage, anti-war rallies, and falling in love with learning.
Forward to June 13, 1970. Graduation Day. I had earned a BS in Political Science, a discipline I had not even heard of prior to attending college. I was to go on to earn three more degrees.
Fifty years. Hard to believe. There has been no 50th reunion, due to COVID 19. That’s OK. I’ll live.
When I crossed the stage that June day, I passed Dr. John Iatrides, my Political Science mentor. He looked at me and said, “I hope you don’t think this is beneath you.” I looked back and said, “Are you kidding me? I’m loving it.”

Battling for Truth

Last week I wrote about the battle for truth against many competing claims. The battle calls for Christians to adhere to a worldview which is consistent with what is, rather than what we might hope for.

How do we go about creating a Christian worldview which will challenge the prevailing relativistic philosophies without compromising our precious faith? Nancy Pearcey’s answer is simple: hard work. She writes
Despite the common stereotype, intellectual questions are not always merely a smokescreen for spiritual or moral problems. To be effective in equipping young people and professionals to face the challenge of a highly educated secular society, the church needs to redefine the mission of pastors and youth leaders to include training in apologetics and worldview. We must refuse to dismiss objections to the faith as mere spiritual subterfuge, but instead prepare ourselves to give what [Francis A.] Schaeffer called “honest answers to honest questions.”
(P. 127, Total Truth)

What a novel idea. Pastors acting like shepherds. Pastors showing more concern for the body than for the body count. This, I believe, is what Paul had in mind when he wrote,

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:11-14 (NIV).

That Pearcey, or anyone else, has to write that we need to change the church in order to prepare believers to combat the various and ever-changing winds of teaching, indicates how far the church itself has drifted from its mission.

Closing Statement:

“Christianity is not a series of truths in the plural, but rather truth spelled with a capital “T.” Truth about total reality, not just about religious things.

Biblical Christianity is Truth concerning total reality – and the intellectual holding of that total truth and then living in the light of that Truth.”
-Francis Schaeffer at Notre Dame University, April 1981.