Renewing Our Heritage

 

 

 

The Push Out The Pusher campaign in Bucks County, PA is in full swing.

http://levittownnow.com/2017/09/28/push-pusher-campaign-hosting-food-truck-event/

The county has pulled out all the stops to bust these bandits who are solely to blame for the epidemic that’s been taking away our youth.  Our youth are victims, just as JJ (Jimmy Walker) was on an episode of the 70s comedy show Good Times. When the parents were away, JJ was in charge. He got busted for having a wild party, but he was a victim.  “Some people broke into our apartment and forced us to party with them!,” he exclaimed.

Seriously, the root of the heroine epidemic, like other social maladies, is that our culture pushed out God.

When I was in elementary school, with Fred Flintstone in the Yabba Dabba Doo school district, the teachers prayed with students and read the Bible to the class. We didn’t have school shootings and other such problems in the schools. Now students don’t read and write so much as they riot, especially in the colleges.

After decades of pushing God out of the schools, now students, youth leaders and others are bringing God back in.

A grass roots movement, See You At The Pole (SYATP) started in 1990 with ten students praying at their school. Now millions of students worldwide meet at the pole before school to pray.

The youth leader at my church first took her students to the pole at a public school five years ago. On Wednesday, September 27th she met these students and others at the pole for the annual event, which globally is held the fourth week in September.

During the day, the youth leader said on her Facebook page, the students who prayed at the pole confidently answer people who ask “what were you doing outside by the flag pole?”

Students who go to SYATP end up going to church and youth groups. Lives have been changed, people have grown in their relationship with Christ, and teachers, principals and school staff like what SYATP is doing at their school, the youth leader wrote.

Since the 60s, we have been in a culture war. Bringing God back into the schools is a salvo fired in that war. Unlike some movements, this side in the war is not violent but it is about peaceably changing hearts and minds by bringing people to Jesus.

The roots of the attack on our heritage, our Christian traditions go back to the French Revolution. The erosion of our culture started creeping in, progressing during the 20th century, but after a respite after WWII, the Storming of the Bastille occurred during the late 60s. https://wigtunes.wordpress.com/tag/francis-schaeffer/

By the 70s, as a result of the influence of the counter culture, we started losing our civil liberties. Political correctness and other oppressive regimes crept into our culture.  Evangelist Francis Schaeffer wrote in the 70s that, as freedom degenerated into licentiousness, to keep order, either we will have a police state to control people from the outside, or we will establish a Reformed Christian consensus where people will control themselves from the inside.

See You At The Pole is a step in this direction. We shall overcome!

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Grace for The Homeless

In previous blogs, I have challenged attitudes in Bucks County, PA regarding the homeless, being hard on some in the Christian community.

Christians are sinners saved by grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. That is, grace is God doing good for us that we do not deserve. In response for God showing us grace, Christians are to grow in grace and be more like Christ, and show grace towards others.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, [so let him give]; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” –2nd Corinthians 9:7″.

Many churches in lower Bucks County have opened their doors to the homeless. They feed the homeless and needy, talk with them and make them feel at home. They treat their guests as friends. One church in particular, Saint Mark AME Zion Church in Newtown, refers to them as “friends without walls.” To make guests at the meals as well as visitors to the church feel welcome, they sing “So glad you’re here, so glad you’re here, so glad you’re here in Jesus name…”

And they mean it.

Saint Mark hosts early Sunday afternoon meals once a month for their friends without walls. Officially, the meals start at 2 p.m., but some friends drift in as early as an hour before serving time. The church is open, and  people in the church are down where the meals are served, setting up. They chat with the early birds as they drift in.

Throughout the history of the church, some congregations have followed the Word of God more than others. An exemplary early church was The Church at Ephesus, which Jesus Himself praised for its patience. Patience is translated as “endurance under trial.”    This church got a lot of flack from the false religions in the city, but they kept the faith.

Other early churches allowed worldly views to pollute them.

Today the world tries to bring the church down to it’s level. Some “churches” just take on a worldly, judgmental view.

The Salvation Army was established with a mission to help the downtrodden, the poor, the homeless, even the seedy people of the street to give them a hand up to restore them through God’s Word. Today in Levittown, PA, however, the local Salvation Army Community Center helps the homeless grudgingly, not exactly a cheerful giver. They put on a show, much like the Pharisee in the parable in Luke 18 who bragged that he was not like the tax collector who also came to the temple but  faithfully followed the letter of the law.

The meals for the homeless at the Salvation Army start at 6 p.m., sharp. They are not welcomed in until then. And when they enter, social services director Queen Latifah prods them about like cattle and warns them about not running around the building and tells them generally to behave, as if they are children or criminals. There have been countless complaints about the queen, but the boss, Captain Caspar Milquetoast, doesn’t lay down the law. He once told me that he was going to keep her in the kitchen, but he didn’t follow through on it.

Particularly prevalent today is the politically correct, which dictates beliefs contrary to God’s Word. Captain Caspar evidently does not want to take a stand against the queen, for fear of the politically correct. He also didn’t take a stand against community relations and development director The Countess of Carlisle after she, in Stalinist style, punished me for disagreeing with her about the way the homeless are treated by thwarting my offer by an official from division headquarters as a writer for the Salvation Army.

On one occasion, a man who had recently become homeless came to the Salvation Army Levittown Corps (and it’s starting to be rotten at the core) for food. It was hot and he was flushed. I offered him a ride to the Levittown public library, where he could get the bus to the community meal and where an advocate may be able to help him, after I finished my volunteer work at the food pantry. As he was waiting in the uncrowded lobby, the Countess sternly told me he couldn’t hang around. After I explained he was waiting for a ride from me, she reluctantly acquiesced.

In criticizing churches I try to be as gracious as possible. Peace is not necessarily the absence of conflict. As Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” But sometimes things must be said and action taken, for example, Jesus driving the money changers out of the church.

As was the case with the early churches, where the apostle Paul encouraged the churches to follow the Word of God, I encourage the churches to show grace towards the homeless, who were made in God’s image. The world, the Bucks County establishment, is cutting the homeless very little slack – they are mostly graceless. Christians must show God’s unconditional love to others.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 5:16

Fruitless Dying Branches

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

-John 15; 5 -7

Do our churches bear the fruits of the spirit?

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Forbearance
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

Save for a couple exceptions, I’ve found that the churches in lower Bucks County, PA have been showing the fruits of the spirit to the homeless and needy guests for whom they have graciously provided meals, as well as fellowship.

Throughout the history of the church, people have strayed from God’s Word and have gone their own way. In Sunday school we’ve been studying the journey of the apostle Paul and company as they visited the early churches.

When the apostles visited the church in Athens, they found the church quickly polluted God’s Word with pagan Greek ideas. Fidelity to scriptures was compromised.

Fast forward to the church in America. For the most part, churches were true to God’s Word in the late 18th and 19th centuries here. By the early 20th century, when the United States was under the influence of kooky French culture, as well as a kook from England, Virginia Woolf, the church started importing wordly ideas.

A Westminster seminary student I worked with told me that orthodox Protestant churches have more in common with the Roman Catholic Church than they do with their liberal counterparts, even in the same denomination. Westminster seminary was a result of a split at Princeton seminary by theologians who had a problem with the worldly modernist views that had crept into the seminary in 1929.

http://www.wts.edu/

Today, especially since the 60’s, churches in America have strayed, like a wayward child, from the truth. They have succumbed to the world by preaching that homosexuality and same sex marriage is OK. Some churches even perform same sex marriages.

A recent example of a church not following God’s ways, not showing fruits of the spirit is the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA.  http://redeemerlutheranpenndel.org/

A man in need, who happens to be a senior citizen and a ten year military veteran was turned away at the door. When he asked why, the hosts snarled at him and said that he had caused problems at the last meal — that he was saying bad things about the homeless.

They dismissed him and threatened to call the police just for asking for further explanation and to ask for someone in charge.  It’s interesting that the church’s founder, Martin Luther started a tradition where church leaders can be challenged by anyone.  Holy irony, Batman!

The truth is that some people in the homeless and needy community, who go to the meals, have been spreading false witness and have been attacking him in Lynch mob style. Instead of doing what’s right and maintaining order like Marshall Matt Dillon, the hosts and Christine from the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) acted like Lord Neville Chamberlain and appeased the mob.

At the previous monthly meal at the Redeemer Lutheran church, a drunk homeless man had to be restrained when he tried to attack the man. The hosts and Christine were right there. I was sitting across from him. The guy showed great restraint, yet when the police came, he was asked to leave, as the officer said, at the request of the host.

Redeemer used the man as a scapegoat rather than stand on principle.

Check out Proverbs 18

1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions.

3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.

4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

It is not good to be partial to the wicked
    and so deprive the innocent of justice.

6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.

7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

9 One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys.

10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.

11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it a wall too high to scale.

12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.

13 To answer before listening—
    that is folly and shame.

14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?

15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.

16 A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.

17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
    until someone comes forward and cross-examines.

18 Casting the lot settles disputes
and keeps strong opponents apart.

19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.

21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.

23 The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly.

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Another example of a fruit rotting on the vine is the Salvation Army. At the community meals at the Levittown community center, the social services director, known by volunteers as “Queen Latifah”, shows little humility as she talks to the homeless and needy there as if they were criminals or children, with a very unloving, unkind, and a non forbearing attitude. The command at this Salvation Army branch does not want to mess with the queen.

Political correctness trumps the fruits of the spirit.

For most of the churches that host the community meals, however, people can tell they are Christians by their love. See my blog We’re So Glad You’re Here.

The church needs to practice and preach God’s Word and not compromise it by selling out to the world.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:20