Education or Indoctrination?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

GraduatesFor many Americans, the month of May is often connected with millions of students graduating from high school or some sort of higher education program. Many of us reading this blog may even be attending such a graduation for a family member or friend. Graduation can be an exciting time for people, filled with emotions that often mark a "rite of passage" for many of us. Graduations offer us a chance to look back on our achievements and a time to start looking ahead to where we might be going. And while Americans are spending billions of dollars each year to get an education, it has become increasing important to ask ourselves what people are really learning. The reason we need to ask this question is because it increasingly seems that our schools, colleges and universities are doing less and less basic educating. Instead, what has clearly been emerging since the 1960's is that our young people are being indoctrinated more and more with a culturally driven agenda that is often opposed to political conservatives and Christians that eliminates the real pursuit of knowledge and truth.

If we are honest with what is happening today, we would have to say that many of our schools are being run and dominated by a very small group of people that carry a progressive worldview that is directly opposed to the Lord, the Bible, the Church and this Nation's founding principles. And while the purpose of getting an education is to pursue knowledge and truth about life, it seems that a massive wave of political correctness has seemingly taken over many campuses in this Nation where even raising an opposing opinion can be dangerous. The once valued concept of schools providing academic freedom for their teachers and students is vanishing. Instead of allowing schools to be a place where ideas are discussed and tested in the real world, students are protected from life and reality with strictly enforced school policies that define "hate speech" or how someone not using the proper gender pronoun might have a problem with "micro aggression." Under such an environment one must wonder how much "educating" is really going on anywhere these days.

Have You Ever Given Yourself Away?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Bride-Groom-SunsetAll of life is about giving on one level or another. We spend our lives giving to people each day. We give to people at home, work or school. And yet, while many may not realize it, all of this giving to others is just a dress rehearsal and practice for giving ourselves to the Lord. The best place to see that going on is in the story of marriage between a man and woman. This past weekend, my beloved daughter got married. I had the privilege of giving her away to her new husband. Both of them had the joy of giving themselves away to one another. The story of giving our lives to another, as seen in marriage, is the narrative of how the Lord gave Himself away for His Bride on the Cross.

Now if you look at our society today, it seems increasingly harder for people to give themselves away to anyone or anything. Ours is a society that fears commitment and sacrifice. Ours is a culture that is dominated by the self. So, the idea of completely giving oneself away to another out of love and altruism seems hard to find. That problem extends far beyond marriage to every relationship. Instead it seems that many people are more conditioned to seeing how much they can get from others. Sacrifice and giving of one's life to and for another is foreign.

Has Someone Stolen Your Bible?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Family Christian ClosedRecently, a story broke that should get everyone's attention in the Church world. That story was the closing in late February of Family Christian Stores, the nation's largest chain of Christian book and merchandise stores after 85 years in business. The announcement will affect more than 3,000 employees at more than 240 stores around the nation. For many, a story like this is "no big deal." After all, in an age of Amazon.com and less serious reading by the public, one might not think too much on this story. Few would think that such a financial bankruptcy pointed to an even deeper spiritual one in the Church. You see, what we are watching today are signs of a major spiritual decline in the American Church and a movement away from Biblical foundations and literacy.

From the beginning, the Bible has been the cornerstone of Christian Faith and discipleship. While Bibles may have to be smuggled into some nations today, just about every American has access to as many as they want for a low price. The problem that has come up in the last 50 years or so is that our consumer driven culture has created a demand for millions of other books about the Bible and the Christian Faith that are being promoted and read instead. And while some of this is good, we are beginning to see the downside of the Christian consumer world we have created. Instead of reading and studying the Word today, many Christian consumers are lost in a sea of shallow, pop culture books and literature. Many of these books are written by famous celebrities and mega church pastors that are about the latest spiritual fashions and fads that tell their audiences how to lose weight, deal with a difficult person, become a better parent or how to be more successful and blessed. Instead of just reading and studying the Word and hiding it in our hearts, we have been buying Bible verses for our refrigerator magnets and wall hangings.

Are You In a Fake Relationship?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Real FriendshipOne of the most interesting words that have emerged in our culture in the last year or so has been the use of the word "fake." The word came out of the last Presidential campaign. The word was used to describe the chaos that was created by the media, in which few seemed to really know what was genuine or fake news. This movement away from reality and truth to the counterfeit and fake is at the heart of a growing spiritual climate going on today. This emergence of the "fake" has begun to transform everything in our world from Presidential elections to our relationships with others and even the Lord Himself.

A generation or so ago, most people had some idea of what was meant by a friend. Back then, when people used the term "friend" they meant something by it. It normally meant you knew someone, spent time with them and had developed a relationship with them that you valued and was worth something to you. Back in the "good old days," friendships were often connected to people you could count on to do something for you or even would be willing to make a sacrifice for you when the going got tough. Real friends tended to stick together and defend one another through the ups and downs of life.

The Glory of Male and Female

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

MaleFemale
One of the most confusing stories I have seen in recent memory is the sex change of Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist, Bruce Jenner, from a man to a woman.  Bruce has now become Caitlyn. The face that once was the picture of masculinity on the Wheaties’s cereal box is now seen as a woman adorning the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. This shocking turn of events has the world buzzing with a host of stories and discussions that continues to create confusion about the whole of idea of what it means to be a “man” or a “woman.” 
 
This gender chaos has been building for the last 40-50 years, ever since the gay community started to redefine our sexual standards. Just a few years ago people were identified as “heterosexual” or “homosexual” and that was about it. Somehow we might have guessed that those two labels would prove a little too restrictive, so a third category emerged, “bisexual.” But even that third category puts people in a box. With the recent rise of transgenderism, as we see with Bruce Jenner, it appears to increasingly be wrong to label anyone “male” or “female” with any sexual preference.

Back to Basics

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Bible And Sword"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified". I Corinthians 2:2

What is the Gospel? Who is Jesus? What is the Christian Faith all about? What is God trying to say to us? What should we be doing in the Church? These are but a few of the questions that every Christian should be asking themselves from time to time. If we cannot answer these basic questions, we are not going anywhere in the Christian life and we may lead others astray.

Over the years, I have come to see that there are many answers being given to the above questions. I never cease to be amazed by some of the answers people give when asked to define the Christian Faith. Some people believe Christianity is largely about living some sort of better moral life where we try to become better human beings. For others, the Christian Faith is a cause that helps us transform the injustices of life. A growing number of people see Christianity as a great tool to make them more prosperous, blessed and successful in life. If you really stop and think about it, there are almost as many ideas about the Christian Faith as there are people. Every person tends to shape the Faith and our Lord into their own image on some level.