Disturbing Dream Because of Disturbing Religious Trends

I had a vivid dream the other night. I don’t often remember dreams and when I do, I rarely remember details. Until now, there are only two dreams I have had that I remember and one a recurring dream.

In my dream I was walking with a man I knew from the town I ministered at a few years ago, Theo Goodding. Theo was one of the patriarchs of the town at the time. He attended a different church than I ministered too, but I respected him and am pleased to have counted him as one of my friends.

In the dream, Theo and were walking down a country dirt road and talking about the land. He would point out this piece of land and that one and who they had belonged too. A lot of the land had belonged to him. Walking and talking with him I began to emphasis with his distress and pain. He was troubled because he and the others sold the land we were viewing because the generations following them were not interested in the land that they wished to pass on to their heirs.

Two disclaimers here. First, I am not trying imply that Theo Goodding’s heirs rejected to accept what he had to pass on them. I know several of his family and they are believers and I believe faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Second, I don’t put a lot of stock in the idea that every dream has a meaning. That would be inconsistent with the randomness of thought and honestly, we wouldn’t be able to keep up with all our dreams and their meanings. Yet, I do believe some dreams have meaning and I do believe that God uses dreams to help us understand some things and/or gets our attention by means of some dreams.

Here is what I have come to understand. I have read two books, the analysis of 20 years of polling and surveying about religious belief and the washout of a standard of belief and faith in God, Christ, the Bible and the Church, and an editorial about how today’s teens have no moral intuition to  base anything value on.

Book 1: The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers, http://www.amazon.com/Vertical-Self-Biblical-Discover-Obsession/dp/0849920000.  Sayers explains that modern culture directs people to want to be famous (thus, American Idol, that I sarcastically and maliciously call American Idiot, and similar shows, like American’s Top Model and so forth. I really don’t like these type of shows, they disturb my Biblical sense of morality and fairness) and how that is a problem from a Biblical and Christian perspective.

Book 2: Uncompromised Faith by S. Michael Craven, http://www.navpress.com/store/product.aspx?id=9781600063626. This book really disturbed me. Craven documents the how our society and culture has had its moral, religious and values foundation has disappeared and the future of America because of this.

The polls and Surveys were Barna Groups’ research for the past 20 years called the State of the Church Series (6 in all), http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/504-barna-examines-trends-in-14-religious-factors-over-20-years-1991-to-2011, in which Barna examines the trends of 14 religious factors for the years 1991-2011. The two biggest elements that hit me is that among the whole American population Church involvement and Bible reading and Bible study is significantly down in almost every category and that each generation is moving away from the beliefs and values that Theo’s generation possessed.

And finally, I read an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning (9/14/11) that is not religious or spiritual in nature but highlighted how today’s teens have no ability to determine what is moral and what is not. It has disintegrated, http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/.

The editorial prompted this post. It is apparent that the values, beliefs, and hopes that people like Theo Goodding, my parents, myself, and so many others is not being received by the next generations. And that will have a negative effect in the church, for faith overall, and will affect the whole world and already is

That dream was emphasizing to me the problem and the need to search for a solution to our culture failing to accept what God wants each person to have and as it is passed on from one generation to the next. In fact, this factor was an issue in Israel’s history. When a generation of Israel had been faithful to God, after a revival of sorts, such as documented a number of times in the book of Judges, that same faith and trust in God eroded more and more with each succeeding generation until there was virtually no one who trusted in God anymore.

That very factor has been growing in our society and it is now evident. I don’t have the practical solution to this issue except to say, I will continue to pray, and to preach Jesus, and be genuine in my faith and witness to Jesus in my life.

I must really leave the other answers up to people with more wisdom and ability and will watch and listen to learn from them in this matter.

May God and his ways return to our culture before it is too late for America and the rest of the world.

bloggingthechurch

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What I’ve Learned From 9/11

With the tenth anniversary of 9/11, about every blogger has written something in relationship it. Many churches had special services, or special portions of their services devoted to memorializing those who died 10 years ago. Most sporting events over the weekend had special moments to honor that horrible event in 2001. Memorial events were taking place all over the nation and especially in New York where the planes destroyed the World Trade Center. What more can I add to all that has been said?

I was horrified, angered, and frightened went our country was attacked. I felt the same things most Americans did. What in the world happened? Why did it happen? How could it happen? What are we going to do now? Are we safe here like we have always believed we were?

I have learned that we are all vulnerable. That statement may seem obvious, but I mean a lot more than the obvious. It is not just America that is vulnerable, the whole world is vulnerable. We lost our innocence and no matter where in the world you live, you are susceptible to danger. The danger may not be Al Qaeda, but it may be some other enemy. Our whole planet is in danger of attack.

But I mean even more than that.

It is curious to me that my sermon yesterday, planned for months without realizing it would fall on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, was about how sin took over the world on three different occasions. The title of the message was, “Sin: Taking Over the World” from Genesis 3-10.

After Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God and eating the fruit from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” sin spread quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel, as Hebrews 11:4 tells us, it was because he was evil. It wasn’t long until we learn in Genesis 6 that the whole world had become corrupt. Violence had completely taken over the earth and God regretted creating humans. Humanity had completely ignored God and whatever other evils they were committing, they had become overtly violent. Hating, harming, injuring, murdering one another. That’s when he flooded the earth, in order to restart and restore without evil ruling the earth.

But it didn’t take long for evil to raise up and spread as if there was no restraint. Noah’s son, Ham, saw his father asleep and naked in his tent and he brought disrespect to his father when belittled Noah to his brothers, Shem and Japheth. But it wasn’t long until pretty much the whole world resisted God’s command to spread out and occupy the world. Humanism became the rule and they decided to build a tower to human ingenuity, ability, and strength, called the Tower of Babel.

It was then that God mixed up their languages. The world spoke one language in that day, but now there were many and it created confusion and stopped their evil.

That third time that the Bible tells about sin and evil taking over the world is in the last days. Of course the New Testament teaching about the last days is that since Jesus Christ died and raised, we are in the last days. The last days will continue from Jesus’ death and resurrection until his return.

2 Timothy 3:1-5: 1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (English Standard Version)

Sin is permeating our world at a level we haven’t seen since the events in the first 10 chapters of Genesis. The Barna research group just recently published its state of the church, examining the religious and spiritual trends of the past 20 years (1991-2011). The report is eye-opening. It is apparent from the report that sin is taking over America, we are becoming more and more worldly; http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/504-barna-examines-trends-in-14-religious-factors-over-20-years-1991-to-2011.

We are vulnerable to sin and evil. The world is full of it. Satan is attacking us. He intends not to just injure us but to destroy us. The attack by Al Qaeda 10 years ago is a physical and tragic symbol of how unsafe and susceptible we are to Satan’s attack and that attack was one of the tools of Satan.

Yet . . . we can be protected. There is hope. First it is in Christ. If you are born again into Jesus Christ (read John 3), you have salvation, but you better be aware and active in your faith. Paul writes these words to us about our spiritual Al Qaeda; 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)

May you be blessed by God and be safe within his love and hope and eternity.

bloggingthechurch