3 Reasons Western Christianity is in Trouble – and How to Fix It!

Christian, Reconstruction, Christ, illustration, cartoon, Christ and His Kingdom, God's Law, Western ChristianityI get it. As a Christian, it can sometimes be easy to look at our local community and our country, and wonder what in the world is going on. I was once there, having grown up with a pessimistic view of Christianity in retreat in this world. Later, as a young adult, I’d often find myself falling into a destructive and entirely unhealthy mind-set of hopelessness and fear. But while that may be a view that some Christians have been taught in more recent times, Dr. Jason Garwood on the August 7, 2016 edition of Reconstructionist Radio (Social Issues are Spiritual Issues) takes a different view. Following are three reasons why Western Christianity is in trouble – and what can be done to fix it!

1. The Establishment Church has truncated the gospel message. If the gospel for you only applies to your heart and spiritual matters, so that you can go to heaven and get off planet earth some day – you have an incomplete gospel! Part of the gospel announcement is the arrival of God’s Kingdom, in time, on earth, and in history. Another part of the gospel is the actual rescue of both sinners and creation (Romans 8 comes to mind). The gospel of the pietistic Christian is merely a private, spiritual affair. The gospel for the Biblical Christian who loves the Kingdom of God, and seeks to APPLY the Kingdom of God touches ALL of life – taxation, politics, private property, education, sound money and so on.

2. The Establishment Church has given up on the world around her. Because of number 1, number 2 is the result. When we don’t see how the word of God can apply to ALL of life, we end up forsaking our duties here in search of the higher life. So the church retreats with their tail between their legs, unsure if all that Kingdom talk is truth or fantasy or just mere conjecture. There was a time when the pulpits across this nation prophetically proclaimed a robust gospel for ALL of life, including social and political realms. Instead of giving up on the world, we must confront the world. The world belongs to those who bow before Jesus, and we will not go away!

3. The Establishment Church has forgotten that it is Hell who has gates. Consider this reality. Hell is the one in Scripture who is on the defense…Jesus has legislative authority in Heaven and on earth. Christ’s Kingdom advances in time and space in history (Daniel 2, Matthew 13). The Church will advance because the battle has been won! Christ was given dominion and a Kingdom that would not end when he ascended to the throne in fulfillment of Daniel 7. After His death and resurrection, Satan was dethroned and is on the run. The world is NOT a sinking ship. Sure, it was cursed by God because of sin. But God is in the process of restoring all things under the feet of King Jesus. The gospel is truly that big! The World isn’t sinking. Evil is sinking!

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The Arts: Modern Christian Music – Advancing God’s Kingdom!

Christian Music, My Soul Among Lions, Petra Beyond Belief, Newsboys, Michael W Smith, Third Day, Brave Saint Saturn, Christian, Christianity, Creativity, Artist, ArtsWhen it comes to creativity and the arts within Christendom, I think Christian music is one of those areas that has actually flourished in more recent years. Of course, it’s a little more difficult to gauge the actual impact that Christian music has had on society as a whole. But even if someone’s work for Christ seems to not make that big of a splash, just a handful of lives changed for Him are worth it all! Following are some of the Christian groups, artists, albums and songs that I’ve personally found inspiring and motivating over the years.

Petra: I first heard Petra back in High School, and still clearly remember watching their “Beyond Belief” movie at a youth event. The impact this album has had on me over the years is clear, with such songs as “Creed” helping me learn the words to the Apostles’ Creed, “Armed and Dangerous” inspiring me to take a serious stand for Him and “Beyond Belief” warning Christians about potential ineffectiveness through getting too comfortable. Great stuff. And yeah, I think the Beyond Belief movie – despite having a pretty early 90s look, is still one of the coolest things out there!

Newsboys: With “Going Public” and “Take Me To Your Leader” as some of my favorite albums (and “Let It Rain”, “Thrive”, “When You Called My Name”, “Spirit Thing” and “Breakfast” as being amongst some of my favorite songs), you just can’t go wrong with the talent of Steve Taylor (responsible for many of the Newsboys witty lyrics) and Peter Furler’s iconic voice. This is music about Christ and His Kingdom that not only has an amazing sound, but is often very clever, poetic and full of a lot of deep truths when you actually pause to consider what you’re listening to.

Third Day: Mac Powell’s distinctive vocals, and Third Day’s awesome Southern Rock sound makes this talented Christian band another favorite. “King of Glory”, “Your Love Oh Lord”, “Cry Out to Jesus” and “God of Wonders” are some that stand out to me personally. But honestly, Third Day has so much great music that I’d be doing anyone a disservice by only recommending a few.

Michael W. Smith: I listened to Michael W. Smith’s i 2 (EYE) album a lot back in high school, and really liked “Secret Ambition”, Pray for Me” and “The Throne”. I especially think that “The Throne” has a really unique sound that is beautiful and other-worldly – definitely worth a listen in my book. “This is Your Time” is also a very moving song, as the Columbine tragedy (which the song is based around) was something that spoke to a lot of Christians back then.

As for other noteworthy mentions? How about Geoff Moore & the Distance: “Evolution Redefined”, Brave Saint Saturn (a little bit of rock, sci-fi and such greats as “Heart Still Beats”), DC Talk, Toby Mac: “Portable Sounds” album, Carman: “It’s Our Turn Now” and “Radically Saved”, and Audio Adrenaline: “Big House”? I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Ray Boltz and his song, “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb”. Released in 1995 under the Album, “The Concert of a Lifetime”, the song takes the Pledge of Allegiance that so many Americans are familiar with, and turns it into a song about pledging our allegiance to Christ. With powerful and timely lyrics, the music video depicts various Christians being led away by secret police, or perishing at the hands of tyrannical Kings and violent mobs. While I understand that Boltz has sadly fallen away from Christ and His Truth in the years following the writing of this song (and is very much in need of our prayers), the song has regardless left an impression.

And last but certainly not least, My Soul Among Lions is what I’m listening to right now! This is such an easy recommend, that it’s not even funny. I came across this group very recently after hearing their music on Reconstructionist Radio, and was stopped in my tracks by their awesome bluegrass/folk sound. This literally has it all in one great album. With lyrics coming from Psalm 1-10, this music inspires and encourages through the word of God, with favorites like “Night and Day (Psalm1)”, “Every Morning (Psalm 5)”, “Rise Up O Lord (Psalm 10)” and “The Nations Rage (Psalm 2)”. If you’re feeling a little down by current events, politics, or any of the other nonsense the world throws at you, then I think you’ll be encouraged and motivated to stand for His Kingdom after giving My Soul Among Lions a listen. And don’t forget, they’re working on a new album, Psalm 11-20!

What are some of your favorite Christian Music artists, albums or songs? Do you think Christian Music has been very effective in advancing God’s Kingdom? Let us know in the comments section! Also be sure to subscribe to this blog (so you don’t miss any future posts) and check out my Artwork tab for great christian cartoons, illustrations and resources available to help share His Truth!

Business, Free Markets & Secular Tolerance

pieaxiomI was out mowing my yard the other day, and got to thinking about how businesses will sometimes try to use their “influence” to make a point. Don’t get me wrong, I believe a business owner should be able to operate their company as they see fit. If their customers don’t like it, they don’t have to shop there. If enough people don’t shop there, then the owner will either go out of business – or might take a hint to voluntarily make a change. You know, free market. Vote with your dollar. That kind of thing.

But when businesses or business owners go out of their way to force their political views on me? They should know that while some their customers might not care, there might be quite a few that aren’t in love with the idea. Maybe isn’t that big of a deal to some business owners. But come on, in a volatile market? Who wouldn’t be worried about lost profits?

For example, we used to shop at Target quite a bit. We bought clothing, groceries, toys, and household items – the whole nine yards. We gave this business quite a few of our dollars because we not only enjoyed the selection of cool stuff, but we also appreciated the design aesthetic and more comfortable feel of the place. In other words, it didn’t feel like a huge warehouse. And that’s important to a lot of people. Because if you go out and do a little shopping, or grab a bite to eat, you might be the kind of person who wants to go someplace that feels free from the regular grind and stresses of life. Which is why the recent bathroom situation with Target was such a turn off. It was almost as if Target was going out of their way to make some silly political statement and draw a public line in the sand. To go from being an entity that’s all about providing an unbiased service, product or experience – to saying, “Hey, we’re going to shove our customer’s face in this divisive public issue whether they like it or not. Because get this – it’s all about inclusiveness.” And the result? Well, like I said. It’s going to turn off a lot of people who don’t feel so “included” in Target’s campaign – and they’re not going to want to do business there for a while. All because the business has gone from being a non-threatening environment to one that is hostile to them. This is especially interesting, considering how businesses are so concerned with marketing to Millennials, and how Millennials (as are most people of any generation) may not be so keen on giving their business to an establishment that either doesn’t share their values, or is overly confrontational about their beliefs. Funny how it works both ways, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t seem necessary for a business like Target (or others, like Starbucks or Ben and Jerry’s) to take a very vocal and public position on divisive political issues and policies – when they could choose to remain silent and have a welcoming environment to ALL their customers, without the ridiculous drama. If they absolutely feel they must, well – so be it. But if you can accomplish being nice and offering a great service or product for your customer without making a bunch of them annoyed, doesn’t this make good business sense?

If you have thoughts on the so-called Target boycott, hostile business environments, consumer marketing, business ethics, secular tolerance, politics and business or anything else related to this subject, please let us know in the comments section! Also be sure to check out my Artwork tab, where a lot of awesome christian cartoons, illustrations and resources are available to help share His Truth! Have a great day!