from 100 Huntley – with George Barna and Carson Pue
Posts Tagged ‘George Barna’
Posted in Dale's Devotional, Discipleship, Dale's Writing, Leadership, Kingdom of God, Good Works, Worldview, Lordship, Holiness, Scriptural Holiness, Christian Living, Sermon on the Mount, Social Holiness, Kingdom Discipleship, Salt and Light, tagged Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Good Works, Worldview, Scriptural Holiness, Sermon on the Mount, Social Holiness, George Barna, Culture, Kingdom Discipleship on March 12, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
I mentioned last week that George Barna has shown us through his poll taking, that sadly, the church today is virtually indistinguishable from the rest of society. And he isn’t talking about being different in some superficial and outward way that you might see in some legalistic churches.
Rather, he’s talking about the fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can and should make in how we live. From all appearances, the church today, in far too many quarters, isn’t serving as the preserving agent that Christ said she is. It seems the salt is losing its saltiness.
So in light of that let’s read verse 13 again.
Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
What happens if the salt loses its saltiness? What happens then? According to Jesus it might as well be thrown out onto the street – which was the garbage dump of the ancient near east – to be trampled by people. I read through a lot of commentaries in preparing for this sermon. And what struck me is how much some scholars have made of this part of the verse. The point was made several times that salt can’t stop being salt. It can’t be anything other than salt. And so, it can’t really lose its saltiness. So what does Jesus mean?
Well, although salt can’t lose its saltiness per se, it can become adulterated, impure, contaminated. If it becomes sufficiently mixed together with sand, for example, the salt will no longer be useful as a preservative. It loses it effectiveness. So what do you do once something outlives its usefulness? Well, in the case of “saltless salt,” you throw it away. It’s no longer any good. The world is described in the Bible as fallen, as sinful – in a word – rotting and in need of help. And so, it’s with this backdrop that Jesus calls us salt and tells us that we’re to be salt.
Now think about that for a minute. Just like salt, Christians may seem small and insignificant – powerless in a culture like ours. And yet we have the ability to influence every segment of it and to permeate the whole. It’s all too easy for us to become consumed with polling data and despair that we aren’t as numerous and as powerful as others. But we must never give in to Satan’s lie that we can be effective only when we have large numbers and a show of strength.
How many disciples turned the Roman world upside-down? I love how the King James Version renders Acts 17:6. It reads:
These [that is the first Christian disciples] that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
The verse is talking about the first Christians – that little band of no-names – who were making their rounds in the Roman Empire – affecting everything they touched with the power of the Gospel.
One Bible commentary summed up that verse this way:
What a reputation these Christian had! The power of the gospel revolutionized lives, broke down all social barriers, threw open prison doors, caused people to care deeply for one another, and stirred them to worship God. Our world needs to be turned upside down, to be transformed. The gospel is not in the business of merely improving programs and encouraging good conduct, but of dynamically transforming lives.
That’s Kingdom Discipleship! And that’s exactly what Jesus is telling us when he calls us salt. And though we may be small in number and seemingly powerless by human standards, we, like that little band of disciples, can still turn a culture upside down – on person at a time – or one family at a time – or one church at a time.
Why? Because – as the old saying goes, “God plus one person equals a majority.” The truth is, God plus no person is still a majority. The point is, we may be powerless on our own, but with God all things are possible. And if Jesus told us we’re salt in this world, then we better behave like it.
“The original Cassius Clay (not the boxer who changed his name to Muhammed Ali) was an affluent slaveholder in Lexington, Kentucky. He could have lived a comfortable life, at least until the Civil War. But Clay believed that chattel slavery was ungodly, and he also believed that society should be ordered on Biblical principles.
And so Clay freed his own slaves and then tried to reach fellow Kentuckians by publishing an antislavery newspaper. When partisans of slavery threatened to destroy his printing press, Clay made a fort out of his three-story, red-brick office. He purchased two small brass cannon, loaded them to the muzzle with bullets, slugs, and nails, and stationed them at the entrance, while his friends stockpiled muskets and Mexican lances.
“Those measures forestalled the attack. Then Clay took the fight to the opposition, going before hostile crowds to speak his piece. “Once, facing his enemies, Clay held up a Bible and said, “To those who respect God’s Word, I appeal to this book.” “Then he held up a copy of the Constitution of the United States and said, “To those who respect our fundamental law, I appeal to this book.” “Then he took out two pistols and his Bowie knife. He said, “To those who recognize only force…”
“Clay’s writings show both personal faith and a belief in the uses of reason within revelation. “He emphasized God’s faithfulness not only to individuals but also to societies, and he argued that Christians should use their God-given intellects to structure society along Biblical lines. “Clay wrote, “Let true Christianity prevail, and earth will become the foreshadowing of Heaven.”
His motivation was to allow the gospel to transform first individuals and then the society.”
That’s Kingdom Discipleship. That’s what it means to be salt in a society – to prevent or delay the society’s moral and spiritual decay. I’m talking to Christians this morning, so I’ll only appeal to Clay’s first book… to those who respect God’s Word, I appeal to the words of our Savior:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Are you salty? Or have you lost some of your saltiness? Are you one of those Christians who looks identical to the world – with no preservative power at all? If you are, the good news is that God is still in control of this world. If you were actual salt, we may have to throw you out. But with God all things are possible. God can transform your life so that you can be that preserving and transforming agent in our culture today. Start first with yourself, but don’t be content to remain there. You are the salt of the earth Jesus said. Now go and be salt.
Posted in Dale's Devotional, Discipleship, Dale's Writing, Kingdom of God, Gospel, Good Works, Worldview, The Church, Scriptural Holiness, Sermon on the Mount, Mercy Ministries, Justice, Mercy Ministry, Social Holiness, Mercy, Kingdom Discipleship, A United Methodist's Beliefs, tagged Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Gospel, Good Works, The Church, Worldview, Scriptural Holiness, Sermon on the Mount, Justice, Social Holiness, George Barna, Mercy, D.A. Carson, Kingdom Discipleship on March 5, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
We find Jesus’ words about being salt and light, right on the heels of the Beatitudes. You’re familiar with the Beatitudes. They’re found at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. It’s there that Jesus shows us a picture of what every single Christian should look like. He says in Matthew 5:3-10:
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
These Beatitudes describe what every Christian should look like. These aren’t to mark the Special Forces Recon Disciples of Christ. These characteristics are to mark all of us – the every day, ordinary, rank-and-file Christians. And as you can easily see, these characteristics are quite counter-cultural. It’s why I say that Christianity is the only true “counter-culture.”
We can’t easily imagine these words printed as a vision statement on Wall Street or in the hallowed halls of Washington D.C. or in some Hollywood executive’s office – can we? But sadly, we don’t find these words represented in the lives of many Christians either. It’s hard to be salt and light to a dark and decaying culture when there are no marked differences between the two.
According to George Barna – statistician-guru and pollster for all things religious in the United States – that’s our biggest problem today. Instead of the church influencing our culture, the culture is influencing the church. We don’t look much different from the world. Listen to what Barna says:
“Two out of every three American adults claim that the United States is a Christian nation. Don’t believe it. Never have so many been deceived.
Based on an analysis of 131 measures of distinctive attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors, we have developed a means of assessing the influence of the Christian community in America. This evaluation is based on a comparison of the similarities and differences between Christians and non-Christians. The data demonstrate that although Christians are distinct in some areas of thought and deed, they generally represent an invisible and ineffective presence in the U.S. Surprisingly few Christians have developed a holistic, integrated and balanced form of Christianity that provides non-believers with a viable lifestyle alternative to consider.”
And then, after he reveals that unbelievers and Christians are almost identical in most spheres of life, Barna then summarizes his conclusions. He writes:
“The bottom line is that in the dimensions of life where Christians can truly influence their world – i.e. in the non-religious domain – we have failed to demonstrate the power of our faith. Christianity is not losing influence in America because it is overmatched by the challenges of the day; it is losing its impact because believers have been unsuccessful at merging faith and lifestyle outside the walls of the church. Non-believers expect us to have different religious beliefs and practices; those differences fail to impress them. Only when those beliefs and practices shape every other walk of life do they sit up and take notice.”
This is an important insight for us to sit up and take notice of. You see, in the Beatitudes, Christ tells us about the inward and personal character of his followers – the real counter-culture. Then he makes an important shift that I want you to notice. He tells us that it’s impossible to follow the norms of the Kingdom – to be his followers in the world – in a purely private way. Donald Carson writes:
“The righteousness of the life you live will attract attention, even if that attention regularly takes the form of opposition. In other words, the Christian is not poor in spirit, mournful over sin, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker – all in splendid isolation.
No – these counter-cultural norms, faithfully practiced in a sinful world, make up a major aspect of our witness as Christians. That’s why Jesus follows up the Beatitudes with the words about being salt and light – what we might call our Cultural Commission – our outward witness to the world.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Kingdom Discipleship.
Posted in A United Methodist's Beliefs, Christ, Dale's Devotional, Dale's Writing, Faith, Good Works, Gospel, Grace, Jesus Christ, Justification, Justifying Grace, Kingdom of God, Reconciliation, Renewal, Renovate Your Life, Repentance, Salvation, Sin, Worldview, tagged Culture, Faith, George Barna, Good Works, Gospel, Grace, Jesus Christ, Justification, Justifying Grace, Renewal, Renovate Your Life, Repentance, Salvation, Sin, Worldview on February 15, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Last week we began looking at the subject of God’s GRACE by trying to understand what grace is and why it’s so important – vital. Then we took a brief look at Prevenient Grace – that grace that goes before us… drawing us to God before we’re even aware of God or aware of our need for him.
Well, this morning we’re going to study a second understanding of GRACE, called Justifying or Converting or Saving Grace. One thing to remember this morning, as I said last week: These are not three different kinds of grace starting and stopping at distinct points in our lives. Remember the quote I shared with you: “Grace is Grace.” These fancy words that we’re using just help us to get a handle on how God works his grace in our lives.
[Read Luke 18:9-14]
Back in the early 1960′s, the U.S. Bureau of the Census came out with what they called the “Index of Leading Economic Indicators.” They chose 11 indicators of the American economy and used them to interpret current business developments and to predict future economic trends.
In 1993, William Bennett came out with what he called the “Index of Leading Cultural Indicators.” His goal was to examine the moral, social and behavioral conditions of modern America. It showed, for example, that in 1960 there were 288,000 violent crimes committed. And in 1991, there were 1,900,000 violent crimes committed. He showed that the average SAT score in 1960 was 975, and in 1992, the average score was 899. Those are just a couple of things he looked at.
Well, back in 1996, another index came out. This one was done by George Barna, who is the “Gallop Poll” of religious statistics. His little book was called: “The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators.” In fact, he still puts out an email once or twice a month that helps to give us an idea of where America is spiritually.
Here were some of Barna’s findings 13 years ago:
- Only 31 percent of Americans read their Bibles regularly.
- 84 Percent of Americans don’t know the meaning of the Great Commission.
- Only 37 percent know the meaning of the Gospel.
- And 44 percent of Americans actually believe that Jesus sinned.
But perhaps one of the most disturbing statistics was this: Barna said,
“that most Americans believe that …salvation is an outcome to be earned through their good character or behavior. …Six out of ten people (57%) believe that ‘if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their lives, they will earn a place in heaven.’”
He then said that, “this perspective has remained constant throughout the 90′s.” His present research is telling us that this statistic hasn’t changed much. This statistic means that at least 57% of Americans are relying on “themselves” for their eternal life. And yet, as staggering as that figure is, it’s really not new. It really isn’t all that different from what Jesus experienced in his day. In fact, it was because of this kind of mindset that Jesus told the parable in our Scripture lesson for today.
Tomorrow we’ll dig into the text and discover what Jesus taught about this.
Visit me on Facebook
- A Prayer for Pentecost wp.me/pEXrn-1oy via @wordpressdotcom 10 hours ago
- Be a Heroic Dad: breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries… 3 days ago
- Life as an Introvert wp.me/pEXrn-1ot via @wordpressdotcom 4 days ago
- 5 Tips for Taking Quality Time Off - Lifehack lifehack.org/articles/produ… via @lifehackorg 4 days ago
- How to Give Your Son What He Needs from His Mom crosswalk.com/family/parenti… via @crosswalk_com 4 days ago
- 17 Tips for Staying Productive In Ministry by @rickwarren via @pastors pastors.com/productivity-t… #pastors via @pastors 4 days ago
- A Prayer for Your Home wp.me/p1TnfW-dV via @wordpressdotcom 2 weeks ago
- A Prayer for Pentecost
- Life as an Introvert
- Mother’s Day Prayer
- Oswald Chambers
- Freedom to Disbelieve?
- John Piper on the Life and Ministry of Charles Spurgeon
- I’m A Yankee Doodle Dandy
- A Prayer for Confirmation
- Why Economic Freedom
- The Secular Boom
- What Do Americans Think of Islam?
- Education is Not the Same Thing as Schooling
- 253,020 hits