Time Priorities in a Frazzled Culture

Today, in the past 24 hours, how much time have you spent on social media? How long you do linger over the news on the internet, all the while clicking on the adds, the promos and the links…the eternal, never-ending links for the “up- next- breaking- news” items? Let me put it this way: are you an addict of the media? Are you losing touch with reality because of always thinking about or looking at the hot topics on the social media?

In Spanish social media is called the “redes sociales” or the social networks. There are an infinite number of people, places and things that you can connect to via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on. But, what are you stealing time from to spend that time on the networks? Who is missing out on your personal interaction and your personal discussion because you are handcuffed to the social networks?

A friend sent me a funny but very telling image on “Whatsapp” recently (yep! I got it from a social network!). The image tells a sad truth. That is: we need to free up time from the social media, from the news broadcasts, from the blogs and podcasts and the constant flow of information that bombards our minds each day! We need to break away from the habitual diet of music, commentaries, entertainment and the ever-growing information highway. But when (and if) we do what will you fill that time with? In other words, how will you “renew your mind” (Rom. 12:1)?

las redes que nos esclavizan, nets that control us

The image above points to a sad truth for our teens and young adults…and not a few older adults that I know! Phones, iPads, tablets and computers are great tools. But they can control you! The Spanish text above the image states “…and leaving their nets, they followed Him.” In other words, leaving behind the “social nets” (“redes”), you and I can more possibly follow Christ with undivided attention. Do you and I benefit from the social media? Of course. Do you and I live attached to social media? More than we want to admit.

Here are a few suggestions that I would like to encourage you to try…maybe you will begin to break a habit and build new, healthier ones, while also blessing and encouraging others.

  • Take the extra 10 or 20 minutes you would have dedicated to Facebook and call a friend or a brother in Christ. Ask how you can pray for him or her. And then, pray right there on the phone for him/her!
  • Read two or three extra chapters in the Word of God, followed by opening up a notebook and writing down the thoughts and lessons learned. Make time to process and to capture what the Lord is saying to you.
  • Open up a new book on your Kindle, and start reading it. Rather than looking all over Amazon or “Best Buy” to find your favorite gadget or new accessory, look for a biography of a missionary, of a person God worked through in some special way, and examine her or his testimony. Learn from the victories and the mistakes of others.
  • Put a good symphony on your sound system, fix yourself a cup of herbal tea and sit and talk, face to face, with your spouse or son or daughter or friend. Leave the digital talk behind momentarily and practice talking face to face. You will really enjoy it! Even if it seems awkward at first.
  • Listen to each other, rather than just “texting” or imaging each other. Focus on the moment, on the heart feelings, on the heart attitudes of your family and friends. Open yourself up to their input and then bless them for what they share with you.

Our intake of social media and digital communication need to be limited. That is true of any good thing. Too much dessert is not good for your sugar levels or the fat intake. But an occasional brownie with ice cream is a treat. Likewise let your use of and time in front of the screen be brief and specific.

As Solomon so aptly instructs “Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, but the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth” (Proverbs 17:24, NASB). Let your focus be on that which you can best touch and respond to, not on those things or people or events that are “at the ends of the earth!”

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

Posted in Articles of Interest, Evaluating our Christian Culture, Home Page | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Travels towards Contentment

Back in Chile, we are! Back home, back in the southern hemisphere. We are back in the place where God has called us.

Since arriving in Chile back in January we’ve found ourselves reflecting the needs of the moment that abound in this culture and society. Chile is predominantly Roman Catholic. It is a western culture and her people largely live for the moment. Chileans enjoy the present. Life is about what today offers…about the immediate.

I too love to enjoy the present. But not at the expense of the future. My focus is to look at what God is teaching me now, in light of what He wants me to learn for tomorrow.

One example is the matter of being contented with where I am in life. As I rode my bike today for my weekly trek I was praying for God to touch the hearts of the unsaved people I know…as I prayed for myself too. Then the thought came to mind: what God often uses to bring people to himself is their own feelings of discontentment with life. Just yesterday a young woman that Ruth Ann is discipling told us that for years she had a feeling that she needed to find out more about God but was afraid to do so. Suddenly cancer brought her to life to a halt, and following the surgery she began to sense that her life was missing something. A sense of inner discontent opened her eyes to her lack of a relationship with the God she never knew.

However for me as a child of God, one of the great privileges I have is to know that my Heavenly Father cares for me and that He is fully attuned to my needs. He is the “giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).” He is the source of our satisfaction. In the Person of our Living God and Creator we find rest, joy and contentedness.

When you think about that truth, expressed for instance by Paul when he clearly affirms “..for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11b), you can see that our travels through life are designed, in part, to teach us to learn to be content. The thing is, we are not untouched by our surroundings, we cannot disconnect from our reality. These things tend to pull us down and create discontentment. If you and I are honest, when we are discontented, it is much easier to “turn our eyes”…not upon Jesus, but upon the world, its pleasures and its toys.

I am thankful for a God who patiently teaches us to rest on Him. Sometimes He does it through need. Sometimes he does so through hurt in our dearest relationships. Sometimes he does so through sudden loss. But every time He does, the goal is to bring us back to the “Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17b NIV). If you are feeling discontented, ask yourself, “If all I had were God’s presence and company, could I, would I, be contented with Him?”

lightstock_939_medium_david

When we move away from God, we find that nothing satisfies. When we rest in His life and sustenance, we find only HE satisfies. In reality only HE can bring contentment.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min

Posted in Articles of Interest | 2 Comments

Church in the Year 2050

Fifty years ago I was a busy and often dirty faced-little boy, contented to play outdoors in the woods. My friends and I loved to climb trees, primarily because we reveled at the task of building a “tree house” up there. Our motto was “up, up and away!” The higher the tree house, the better it was. Of course it also demanded a stronger, more well-rooted tree to sustain our rickety structure. Tree houses were a great outdoor past time, but they were often left to rot in the trees since we boys grew up and soon had more exciting adventures to conquer…like dirt bikes and motorized go-carts!

Fifty years ago the local church was a safe haven for many believers and even those who were only “sympathizers.” A church could fill its pews with only a minor amount outreach. Other means of filling the church were good singing, interesting preaching and active youth programs. Neighborhood churches were a part of the local scenery and most people respected that or at least they honored the church’s place in the community. That is not the case today. Many people, like my friends and I back in the early 60’s, soon leave behind the “tree house” of the church and move on for more exciting things like “motorcycles and go-carts.” Today, many churches are being left to rot alone. No one seems to care any more. 

That is, I admit, a drastic evaluation of the church. The churches that I am most familiar with in the United States are not being left to rot. But, they may be in about 25 or 30 years. In other words, there is a trend I see that must be addressed now. The sad truth is that every year hundreds of churches are closing their doors forever. They are losing their youth, their families and their single adults. Many churches will disappear from the local scenery, because they are not reaching their communities and have no sense of a passion to make the necessary changes in order to reach the younger singles or those young marrieds who have moved on to other more exciting things, like podcast sermons, electronic Bible study groups or even the buffet style mega church with its vast variety of activities and groups.

While I do not pretend to know all the causes nor have a magical wand to wave over the problems to make them disappear, I feel that a few questions might be in order to help a church that is lagging behind in outreach or that is becoming preoccupied with paying the mortgage or keeping the staff’s salaries paid. Perhaps by looking at what we are going for, we can see how to steer through this maze of change that the church is facing. 

First, ask the “front line” leaders and workers in your local church, “when was the last time you had an unsaved person in your home to show the love of Christ and to explain the Gospel to them?” If they answer that it has been more than 6 months, then kindly suggest that they need to re-evaluate their participation in the Great Commission. The Gospel of Christ spreads most rapidly when it spreads in one-on-one settings.

Second, ask your leaders  (ask yourself): “how much time do you spend each week in prayer for the lost or for unsaved people you personally are seeking to win to Christ?” Prayer is the back bone to evangelism, and evangelism only becomes a top priority when you pray for opportunities to speak out about your faith. Do you have a list of names of the unsaved? Do you know your neighbors well enough to say “I am praying for you” and be truthful about it? One good way to tell if you are praying for the lost: your neighbors ask you to pray for them, because they know you are a person of prayer.

Third, investigate your church’s budget. Ask your treasurer or the deacon or elder in charge of finances this question: “During the past 5 years has our spending for evangelism and missions gone down, gone up or leveled off?” Once you have identified a trend, you ought to take note that trends usually are not visible until after they have already begun to have an impact. Therefore a decrease in missions giving or a reduced item for evangelism probably already has produced some weakening impact in the church’s outreach. The results may still be in the making, but it can be averted if evaluated and corrected decisively. 

img_6057

Giving out the good news! One heart at a time.

Fourth, now this question may make some uncomfortable, but be sure you ask it in a spirit of love. Ask “how has your church family demonstrated Christ’s love in some tangible means over the past year to those who are needy, defeated, beaten down, rejected by society? How is your church ministering to those you wish to reach before they are believers in the congregation?” I am convinced that the church today, as well as we believers, often attempts to rush into the evangelism mode and forget about the pre-evangelism that breaks down the walls of fear and distrust. The acts of serving, of loving and caring for the lost gain you a hearing and in turn, open the door for explaining your motives, which according to 2nd Corinthians 5:14, must the be love of Christ which controls us. 

Will there be a day that the church congregations we all know and appreciate end up like those tree houses that my childhood friends and I built some 50 years ago? Abandoned, rotting, empty, useless. Will churches in the next 25 years continue the trends we see today of the small, traditional church that soon cannot pay the bills and ends up turning off the lights forever? What possibly could be done to turn this disheartening trend around? One thing is for sure: one part of the answer is to turn our hearts to God in humble dependence and in desperate prayer, and call on Him to turn us from our complacency and coolness. If you and I are not avidly involved in evangelism, the church will soon fade away. As one well known historian has said: “the church is only one generation away from extinction.” 

The other part of that answer may come, I believe, when we see the masses of Christians take seriously their personal responsibility to witness to the lost. That starts with a renewed commitment for each one to employ his or her spiritual gifts for God’s glory and in God’s plan. One thing that the unsaved world cannot resist and that is a multitude of committed, godly, faithful believers functioning in harmony in the Body of Christ. 

The churches of 2050 will thank us for it!

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

Posted in Articles of Interest, Evaluating our Christian Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Unparalleled Presidential Election 2016, Final Post

united-states-flag

On the eve of the election, and after a week long seminar I participated in, I’m going to pull together my closing thoughts on the election. I ask you to hold on for a longer ride this time as I attempt to pull the draw string together on the foremost issues that offer, in my understanding of US politics, a compass to guide you and me when voting.

The first of these watershed issues is Foreign Policy. I for one do not believe that the United States ought to see herself as the global policeman. The choices and consequences on the world’s stage are so complex today that the administration can never be 100% informed of what is out there. As a United States citizen living abroad for more than three decades I have experienced the sense of embarrassment that comes from the botched attempts of one nation attempting to steer the destiny of another, like when the George W. Bush administration decided to enter Iraq because of alleged weapons of mass destruction. We all know how that turned out. Such motives are noble, but idealistic at best and in truth, crusader-like at worst. They are out of touch with the reality that we don’t live in colonial days where the “great white father” will be seen as all-wise or worthy of absolute trust.

That being the case our next president needs to have a humble view of our bilateral relations with each nation with which we cooperate. We need policies that will proof friendly, respectful, informed and especially given to honoring the national sovereignty of sister nations. Nations that honor one another promote understanding and mutual help. Why, for instance, after Hurricane Katrina, did we not see any offer or delivery of relief to those thousands left homeless from our “Allies?” Why did not the wealthier nations send in medical help or emergency shelters? If we are enjoying a relation of mutual respect, then countries who feel honored by their agreements with the US will readily offer help when we are facing wide spread devastation.

I’m all for a president who knows not only how to serve and provide assistance or relief to our Allies. But we need to achieve a mutually beneficial treatment of these nations with whom we partner. Let’s change the model we use in the White House, as it were, with this one truth: an effective foreign policy starts with mutually accepted parameters in order to achieve a reciprocal benefit and a mutual service. The U.S. is not the world’s police, not the world’s judge. 

The next watershed issue is that of Immigration. This is a ticking time bomb! I would like to think that the problem will be solved within the next administration. But the longer we delay a just, simple and humane solution to the presence of over 11 million illegal immigrants, the longer our entire society will be divided and hamstrung.

To be honest we have made this problem for ourselves. How? We are soft on crime, tolerate drug abuse, ignore the destructive nature of pornography, wink at prostitution, and especially deny white collar crime. Why would our authorities deal with this problem differently? Our culture looks the other way when it has to do with honesty and dignity. We continue  to the same with the illegal immigrant. We hire them under the table. We ask them to do things we would not ask others. We treat them as second class human beings. We even think of them as less human, because we think they are impervious to pain and suffering. Illegal immigrants are people, therefore any path to citizenship or legalization (they are two very different processes) must be humane and dignified.

But treating an immigrant with dignity implies there are laws that protect the United States people equally. We cannot offer an immigrant what we ourselves as a nation do not possess. Therefore, our next president will be called upon to insure that the native born US citizen not be displaced in any way by those seeking refuge in our country. In other words immigration flows out of the understanding that all  men and women are created equally. It is the Creator God who gives the value to every human being and therefore the steps to provide a place the visitor can identify with and call his or her home depends in large measure a biblical view of who we are as people.

As a result we need a president who begins with the basic truth of the equality of man so that we as a nation under God will retain the immense priority of treating people with dignity. That dignity begins right from the point of conception and carries through a persons entire physical life. We teach people to respect others by obeying the laws. And you teach people to obey the laws by showing that they not receive privileges without first of all proving their respect for the people that already live in the land where the immigrant longs to call his home too.

Another very important issue is Gun Control and the Second Amendment. What is at the core of this issue? Is it personal safety? Is it the right to bear arms (a phrase that comes from the Revolutionary war period)? Is the issue gun violence? Is the issue the fact that police are using their state-ordained authority without reasonable restraint (now I’m sounding like a political pundit…!)? The issue is  simply are those of us who are gun owners willing to be 100% responsible for the welfare of those around us? To own a gun is to bear a solemn oath of personal responsibility and to assume the protection of all whom we encounter while bearing that weapon. A gun is no more lethal than the one using it.

Therefore our next president will of necessity have to take the stand in favor of teaching our culture to be a nation of responsible citizens. We  need to ingrain the concepts of responsibility for our own actions. We need to teach our children in school to be responsible for their choices. We need to be a nation of responsible participants in the political process and in the development of a culture of mutual respect and mutual protection. The abuse of the Second amendment by criminals and anti socials comes from the erroneous attitude and belief that my rights are the most important  thing in life. Such a posture is FALSE.  If a person is no willing to take full responsibility for his or her choices and actions, then they are not competent to own a gun or to be granted the privilege of carrying a gun.  The point behind the Second Amendment is that all citizens are capable of making sane, healthy and wise decisions as to the use of a firearm.

Let us call upon the highest office in the land to be the staring point for the reformation of our culture to one that is law-abiding, personally responsible and committed to self preservation, not self exaltation.

I want a president who can see through to the heart of the issues! I believe that the United States will cease to lead the nations of the world by the end of next generation. Other more sober, more wise and more morally sound cultures may outpace us. But if we take our civic duty seriously we will not only be at the voting polls tomorrow, we will speak for what is right with conviction and love. We will stand with those who seek truth and justice for all. We will support those political leaders who know that they are only a small piece of the whole process and not consider themselves superior to it.

I close this series of posts just hours before the polls open, fully aware that I do not have all the answers. We will continue to struggle as a nation to see the light of day even after November 8th. But if anyone has led you believe that you should not vote or that your vote does not matter, to them I say the following: you and I are creating a reality that our grand children will live with. If you are not satisfied with today’s reality in the United States, stop complaining and start acting! Freedom is never free to those who long for it. There will be a cost. There is a cost to be a democratic nation: that cost is, in part, informed, timely, smart and decisive participation.

November 8, 2016 is the day you and I must participate in our country’s processes without doubt and without fear.

If you have read your Bible, you will see that no way is He limited to one political moment or process. I take great hope from know that God used tyrannical depots like Cyrus of Persia and Cesar of Rome to fulfill His plan and purposes. He will use this election to further his plan for the United States of America.

Most importantly, keep in mind that as you go to vote you will have repeated opportunities to speak up for the Savior! What the USA needs is God and His truth. The answer to our problems in the US is the Savior, and the way God will showcase Christ is through the local church. Point others to the living Lord Jesus Christ with sensitivity and care. Live out your faith and your faith is in the eternal God Almighty, NOT our political system.

May we, as His representatives, prove worthy of the privileges God has entrusted to us.

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

Posted in Evaluating our Christian Culture, Sin categoría | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Unparalleled Presidential Race in the USA: Part 2

The SECOND ISSUE that is shaping the presidential race is climate change. The link that I posted in the previous post was only slightly helpful concerning this topic. There are three questions there that the compilers have gathered. They all refer to energy and relevant topics. Did you visit that page? There is good information there, to be sure!

Think with me about the matter of climate change. Hillary Clinton mentioned in an advertisement for her campaign the fact that her “good friend, Al Gore” has mentioned a particular issue. Frankly, that fact alone makes her position suspect, but the fact is, that Mrs. Clinton, and many in the Democratic Party, have come to accept and fully endorse the mantra of the idea that our society is on a crash course to destroy the entire planet. Her thinking along this line is questionable, but merits examination. The thing is, her platform does not provide in depth answers about the possible direction that her administration would take, if she is elected.

On the other hand, Donald Trump prefers to look at the issues from a pragmatic view point. This is true of other of his ideas in the field of the economy and the choices that the administration is called upon to make. He needs to be more informed, however, and not unlike other areas where he is out of the loop he knows where to obtain the first class help necessary to make informed choices.

The other two more well known parties and their candidates, on the other hand, have much to say about the issue of climate change. The point that I want to make here however, is not which candidate has the most viable solution to the problems of climate change, since quite honestly there is NO 100% SURE WAY TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF CLIMATE CHANGE. The American public is following the Piped Piper towards a blind dance over this matter. Unfortunately, the scientific data is in conflict on this issue. Neither Trump nor Clinton, nor Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson have the final answer on this issue. 

It makes for a good rallying point to cause young voters to get behind the candidate. For others it is a rallying point to speak out against all industrial research and developmental work that tied to or interested in using fossil fuels. The matter of climate change, unlike many other issues, is not a black and white or a “cut and dried” topic. It still needs much investigation and much clear headed and honest evaluation of the feasibility of human intervention in the planet’s climate.

Unlike other watershed issues, the matter of climate change represents other philosophical positions. Don’t be duped into thinking that this matter will change the future of the nation, such as other crucial matters (see this link to help you sort through those issues). My thinking? TAKE HEED America to those who chose to use global warming as a means of economic deterrents for the country. And especially take heed to those tho try to say that the USA is responsible for destroying the climate around the world. It’s those same people who also say that the USA has to solve all the problems of the developing nations, ignoring the fact that the best way to develop other countries to to teach the local people how to build their own economy, including how to tap their own natural resources.

When you vote next week on Nov. 8th, remember alarmists and doomsday sayers often prefer hype over common sense and the real issues of our country’s future like the matter of our national debt, our national leadership, the lack of a moral compass, the failure to protect the weak and the defenseless in our culture. Climate change is inevitable. Administrations will change in the White House. But we are still responsible to stand for the wise, reasonable and efficient use the natural resources that the United States needs.

See you on the 8th!

David Rogers, M.A.Min. 

Posted in Articles of Interest, Evaluating our Christian Culture, Sin categoría | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Unparalleled Presidential Race in the USA: Part 1

We the people are faced with three, well, now four people to choose from for the 2016 Presidential election. Can you name all four tickets? I could not until today. At least not by the candidates’ full names and party associations. Much less could I articulate their political stances and platforms.

That is part of the problem with our entire political process as a nation. We, I confess myself included, focus on the heroes, the celebrities or the financially successful. I remember that popularity won even before I was in elementary school and the candidates were John F. Kennedy, and…who was that other guy? All we seem to really want or follow is the trendy, the popular and the favorites (kind of like your phone or iPod…just play the “favs”). But in the end it was the other candidate, Richard Nixon, that really made an impact in our nation in the years following!

I ask you, why are we not looking at the candidates as people? They are simple public servants, who will work for us as a nation. And a person who wants to serve the nation’s interests will not seek to be the hand that pounds “the nails in the coffin” of the other candidate (as though he/she were a henchman). He or she will present himself by his life of service to the people and his respect for the guiding principles of that nation. When you choose a president who is a playboy, a demagogue or a racketeer, you will get what you asked for: a corrupt, careless, biased tyrant who turn a deaf ear to the truth and the guidelines our country has chosen to be governed by, namely the Constitution. It is as though you choose his lifestyle and his view of others over his speeches or his catchy phraseology or even his “distinguished experience in politics.” You cannot ignore WHO he or she is as a person.

us-constitution-display-case

United States Constitution on Display

Now I am not here to praise or to belittle any of the four parties and their candidates. I have watched and participated in presidential elections since 1976. That means I have cast a vote for a candidate ten times in my short pilgrimage here. During those 10 times I fear that I have not always fully understood what was at stake in the election. Therefore, it is my promise and commitment to you who read my blog to help identify the issues, and to give some light on the character and the person of each of the candidates. 

ISSUE NUMBER ONE:

–Supreme Court Justices–

In the next one to four years, the president in the oval office will have the responsibility to name at least one and most likely four supreme court justices to the bench of the highest court in the land. If the trend continues whereby the 9 judges make “value decisions” or choices that mean the interpretation of the Constitution of the USA, then it stands to reason that you and I vote for person who is going to choose to name justices that have a fear of God, a respect for human dignity, a love for the truth and above all, a sense of their own temporariness as a judge. We need judges on the Supreme Court that have a solid grip on the matters of truth, knowing that truth is not a “transient, shifting, cultural preference” but rather a solid, timeless, defensible reality that determines our future as a people. The crucial question here is: does the candidate have a respect and appreciation for the Constitution and its character as a timeless document that we must interpret and apply but NOT rewrite or deface. 

How can the person I vote for influence the future of the United States? The obvious answer: by virtue of the executive powers that are invested in the president and the office he represents. Yes, indeed the president will bear the duty and the right to make executive choices, which in turn will present a picture of his or her lifestyle and person. We dare not ignore this fact since the choice he or she makes will live on perhaps for a generation in the Supreme Court Justices he names.

Therefore a major point of contention in this election begins with and revolves around the candidate’s attitude toward our national Constitution. This will be decisive in matters pertaining to topics such as the right to life, gun ownership, gender equality, education, military and just about every other issue that touches our existence as a human being.

Ready or not, we will be asked to vote for the person whom we believe will best defend the Constitution. Look at this link to see what each of the candidates is saying about it.

The NEXT ISSUE…CLIMATE CHANGE.

See you soon,

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

Posted in Evaluating our Christian Culture, Sin categoría | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summary of our Term in Ten Minutes

We could tell the story in a dozen different ways. Looking back we can clearly see how God has sustained and blessed during our eighth term of ministry in Chile. Statistics can’t tell the whole story of the variety of ministries God has allowed us to be a part of. The video below summaries the Lord’s working in Chile from a perspective of church growth and church planting, through our family and the Church we’re presently serving in, the New Life Baptist Church. 

Please take a look at how God has opened doors of opportunity to multiply our church planting efforts in Chile. The video does not include all of our areas of service, and so in the future we will, through other means, inform about the Editorial “Crece” (Grow Publishers), the Baptist Bible Seminary, and the interaction with sister Baptist churches. Dave works with many other churches in the steps required to gain their own properties and facilities. Dave and Ruth Ann partner with a tremendously gifted and dedicated ABWE Chile team as well. 

Thank you to all you partner with us! To those who care, who pray, who give and who have shared with us in Chile the work of Church planting.

Our God is a great God and worthy to be praised!

David L. Rogers, M.A.Min.

 

Posted in Home Page, Prayer Letters | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment