Category Archives: Poetry and Prayers

Must our teachers and heroes be Christians?

A little informal poll:  I’m interested in what my friends think about the idea that the teachers and heroes of a Christian ought to be Christians.  Don’t be shy.  You can go to the comments and read my thoughts, but I’m really interested in yours.

Hymn to the Godhead

Song to the Godhead

Father of mercy,
Author of life;
Lord of creation,
Refuge in strife;
Broken your heart
From Adam’s dark sin;
Determined in passion
To bring us back in.

Jesus our brother
Sent from the throne
Revealing the Father,
Calling us home.
Offering your utmost
To break the dark curse;
To raise us to heaven
And show us our worth.

Sweet Holy Spirit
Come open our eyes;
Bind us together,
Break off the lies.
You are our Comfort,
The Spirit of Truth
Lift us, adopt us
And make us anew.

Don Stephens
6/3/09

The seeds of Auschwitz…

Almost two weeks down the road I’m still thinking about Auschwitz and what led up to the gas chambers of Birkenau.  Ideas have consequences.  They are the cultural seeds that grow into movements which either build or destroy the civilizations of the world.  The seed-ideas of Democracy, the Reformation and the Enlightenment quite naturally gave us the Modern world just as surely as the seeds of Darwin led to the Holocaust.

The evolutionists have been teaching us for 150 years that human beings have no special value.  Evolved from nothingness into a quivering mass of organs and blood, we’re merely animals of the highest order.  And among the children of primates are some, (in the case of Nazi Germany it was the Aryans), who are more highly evolved that others.  Nazism at its root was a demonic device to speed evolution along by exterminating the inferior races.  What could be more logical or more inevitable?   Hitler was a great fan of Darwin.

The horrifying thing, of course, is that those same ideas are fueling another holocaust of terrifying proportions: to date, over fifty million unborn children, (one third of an entire generation), have been aborted in America alone.

Genesis confers mankind with honor, dignity and purpose while evolution strips away human value until we’re left on equal footing with the animals.  Auschwitz was a wake up call for me: It’s time we in the church learn better to counter the ideologies of death with the simple, articulate Truth that leads to life.

Words and warfare

For the past month I’ve been living “up close and personal” with eleven other friends on this outreach through the Balkans.  Typically we’re together every waking moment in cars, hostels, outreach activities, and meals.  For all practical purposes the only time I’m not with the team is when I’m asleep or in the restroom!

The whole experience has been an exercise in sanctification as we’ve worked through the challenges of living together in “cramped community.”   And in these conditions I’ve been noticing how crucial a few words of encouragement can be to another person.  It’s so important, I believe, that it’s actually a form of spiritual warfare.

We humans often drift through our days to the devil’s dirge of accusation and inadequacy: “I’m not good enough.  I’m too fat, too skinny, too plain, too uneducated, too clumsy, too old to have what it takes.” But the voice of Jesus offers a different story: “You can do all things through Christ.”  (Phil 4:13); “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14)  “You are my beloved” (1 Cor. 15:58);  “You are more than a conqueror…” (Rom. 8:37)   and a thousand other encouraging words to the ones who are joined to Him.

I’ve gotten a bit hooked this trip on watching the faces of my friends light up by a few simple words of encouragement.  And I’ve become convinced that it’s neither a game nor just a good thing to do. Encouragement is a direct strike at the heart of the devil’s kingdom, taking out the lies that drag us down to the the grave.

“So then, encourage one another and build each other up, as you are doing.
-1 Thess. 5:11

Beauty … and terror

Yesterday we took a brief excursion to the Terror Museum, a building in downtown Budapest that formerly housed the Secret Police during the occupying Nazis and the Communist years of Hungary’s history.  Story after story of betrayal, persecution, forced labor, deportation and execution led us through the gloomy halls of the edifice.  It is a truly shocking reminder of man’s capacity for cruelty and rebellion towards God.

Exiting the building into the tree-lined avenues of the city felt like a drowning man sucking in air.   Budapest is a city that could have been built around the theme of beauty:  Statues are strewn through parks and facades, trees and flowers are carefully set among the grand architecture of the Austrian-Hungarian empire while the beautiful Danube glides peacefully through the center.   It’s a dream-city of wonder and charm and contradiction.

How the same human race who created such a magical city can turn around and send its neighbors to death camps and torture chambers is a question that only the Biblical account of man can answer: Fashioned in majesty to reflect the glory of His Creator-King, mankind has fallen under a spell of darkness that perverts and corrupts everything he sees.  Man writes symphonies and sonnets.  And he gasses his neighbors in death camps.

The good news for Budapest is that her exiled King has returned.  Having entered our human darkness, He fought his way through the lies and deception and broke the evil spell of sin.   The kingdom He holds before us now would make the Austrian-Hungarian Empire look like a poor starving village.   Pray that the word will spread to the streets.

Superheroes

Not long ago I saw the movie Hancock, about a reluctant and ill-mannered superhero played by Will Smith.   It got me to thinking about why we love superheroes.   What’s the deal with the masked crusaders that captures our imagination and fuels a multi-billion dollar business?

I believe it’s the Kingdom DNA that God has programmed into every man, woman, and child created in His image.   Intended from the beginning to be masters of the earth unmatched by only God Himself, we’ve never lost the ancient memory.

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth… And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Gen. 1:26, 28)

Somewhere in our hear-of-hearts is the distant memory that we were intended to be thus, and when we see Superman saving the day our heart whispers “YES!  This is who I was created to be!”

Jesus, the God-man and prototype of all superheroes, after wresting the cosmos from the powers of darkness commissioned his disciples saying, “these signs will follow those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)

That’s who we are.  We are born into the bloodline of those “supermen” who defended the weak, rescued the dying, “conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight.” (Heb. 11:33-34) It’s our inheritance in the Epic tale God is still writing: the Story of the Kingdom.

With such ancient DNA in our being is it any wonder we thrill at the exploits of the superheroes?

Religion and relationship

Sitting in my basement room at Mom’s house I’m not so inspired to dredge my heart for something “original.”  So I thought I’d pass on a couple of quotes from the book I’m reading, The End of Religion, by Bruxy Cavey.

“The problem with organized religion is not that it’s organized.  The problem with organized religion is that it is religious –  believing that its own set of rules, regulations, routines and rituals are the exclusive way to God.

If I am right , then the antidote to organized religion is not disorganized religion, but organized irreligion – a collective effort to use organization and structure to help encounter and experience the subversive spirituality of Jesus.  Cups can be useful to hold water as long as we remember it is the water that refreshes and not the cup.  Licking the cup leaves us unsatisfied.”

“Religion is the archrival of intimate spirituality… Religion, a tiresome system of manmade dos and don’ts, woulds and shoulds – impotent to change human lives, but tragically capable of devastating them – is what is left after a true love for God is drained away.  Religion is the shell that is left after the real thing has disappeared.”

-Doug Bannister