Christianity in Today's AmericaTweet
Posted 4/20/10 at 8:53 AM | Dale Garris
I'm sitting here at a sidewalk café overlooking the ocean enjoying the morning breeze. Cape Verde - or Cabo Verde as they like to say it here - is just what I thought a tropical resort island would be like. The air is clean and very clear, the sun is strong, and there is a faint wisp of that tropical feeling. The houses are lined up in pastels and cream colors as if they were made of different flavors of ice cream. The cobblestone streets and irregular alleys make you feel like you are in Portugal or some Mediterranean village by the sea. Everything has a quaint feel about it.
But the people don't quite fit the picture I had imagined of a tropical paradise where everything is beautiful and life is a song on the beach. When you scan a crowd, it is difficult to find a smile in it. How odd that is for a place with perfect weather, a bustling economy and picturesque streets! Smiles have to be forced here; they do not come easily. Apparently life within the heart is not as good as life appears on the outside. It has something to do with the ubiquity of sin in this country.
The dominant god in Cabo Verde is pleasure. It beckons to you from every corner. You can see it in the carefree attitudes tinted in lust that cover this town. Fun and Pleasure, the twin sisters of Sin, own these streets, and they bring with them the burden of sin and the sorrow of heart that accompanies it. FULL POST
Posted 4/11/10 at 5:14 PM | Dale Garris
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
I still remember the name of the gang - the Royal Falcons. We were just kids, young punks on the streets of Jersey, but we thought we were cool - tough guys like the Mafia. Don't mess with us ‘cause we're the Royal Falcons!
There were gangs in some of the other neighborhoods that we had to deal with, however, and they thought they were just a bad as we thought we were. Depending on which side of town you were in, you had Blacks, the Puerto Ricans, the Italians, and the Jewish kids. If you walked into any of those other neighborhoods, it was war; if they walked into yours, they were fair game. Except for the Jewish kids. They were an easy target, so everyone picked on them. But it was always Us against Them (with Us being the good guys, of course). FULL POST
Posted 3/10/10 at 1:38 PM | Dale Garris
Some time ago, a retired pastor emailed me how he wished he could be serving the Lord like me out in the harvest field reaping all the souls. He felt useless, spent, and too sick and old to do anything anymore. The Lord gave me a rather terse answer for him, that I was nothing more than a marionette on a string that was operated by the prayer warriors who were holding me up in prayer. It was the Prayer Warriors who won the battles. All I did was show up.
It strikes me how much it is like the game of American Football. No matter how good the Quarterback is, he can’t win the game alone. While the Quarterback may control the play, his job is to pass that ball to others for the touchdown. It is a team effort that wins the Game. FULL POST
Posted 3/9/10 at 10:14 AM | Anthony Horvath
Besides a CP blogger, I am also the Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries. I am proud to announce that our ministry will be hosting its first annual online apologetics conference this May, 2010.
Held entirely online, this allows for Christian artists, writers, pastors, teachers, etc, from all over the globe to attend without having to bother to leave their homes. Note: everything will be in English! FULL POST
Posted 3/2/10 at 12:00 PM | Dale Garris
“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,
reserved in heaven for you …” 1st Peter 1:4
You’ve just entered into the Great Hall and are being ushered to your place at the table. The tablecloth stretches from one end to the other in a sparkling white linen so pure and white that it is luminous. The place settings are laid out perfectly with rich china plates that seem to glow.
The cups and saucers are of a delicate porcelain that seems almost translucent and light to the touch. And oh, the silverware! And the golden jewel-studded goblets that are placed beside each setting stand at attention at each place with a richness that you have never seen. Bowls full of delicious looking fruits are set all the way down the table, bursting with flavors and scents that call you to reach out and taste them.
As the crowd begins to enter the room and take their places, there is an unspeakable joy of celebration that fills the atmosphere. The rustle of pure white linen can be heard as each person is led to his or her place where their name is written on their invitation in pure golden foil on a sheer white vellum card. You can hardly believe you are really here as you are brought to your own seat, filled with anticipation of the celebration that is to begin. FULL POST
Posted 2/23/10 at 11:52 AM | Dale Garris
Sometimes I just sit on the porch at night and stare out at the black drapery spread across the sky studded with stars that they tell me are so far away that my mind cannot grasp it. I sit there wondering about what lies beyond life, out past the curtain of night and into the realms that we will soon pass into. I know that all the things I believe are true, not just because I hope they are, but because they have proven themselves over and over again through the years.
It's like living in a home that has two large rooms - one is your everyday living room where you spend most of your time, and the other is a large room where God lives. You can go in there anytime you want by opening the Door and walking in there. God is right there. His presence is not something you imagine, but something you actually feel. You've had several experiences in there with Him, and have actually heard Him speak to you, if not audibly, at least in a very supernatural way.
And yet when one of your friends who doubts God's existence comes over, try as you might, you cannot convince them of His presence right on the other side of that door. They can argue all they want and quote all sorts of intelligent sounding theories, some even based on sophisticated science that you can't understand, but they refuse to cross the threshold of that door to see for themselves. You know that all their fancy sophisticated ideas would vanish if they could just see for themselves, but its as if they won't do it because they really don't want God to be there.
Silly. If He is there, you'd think they'd want to know.
But instead, they hammer at your faith, dismissing it as old-fashioned, unrealistic, and dumb. But you've been inside that room and you have met God yourself. He's really there. It doesn't matter what anyone says, you have been in His presence and nothing can take that away.
I have come to realize that not everybody wants to be saved. Even if they know it is the truth, they will find some kind of way to get around it, because they love sin more than righteousness. One day very soon, however, God will cast off the covering that upon all the Earth and we shall see Him as He is, high and mighty and lifted up above all Eternity. There will be no debate then, no questions or doubts, no mocking and scoffing - just the utter stark realization that, O my God, it's really true!
In the meantime, I labor over how to bring unbelievers to a place where they would be at least willing to step inside that room and see for themselves. Of course the problem is that to do that, they have to go through that Door, and that is what holds them back more than anything else. You see, it is easy to believe or not believe - it's repentance from sin and a commitment to righteousness that is the great hurdle that most people are not willing to get over.
And hence the ultimate test. We will not be tried at Judgment on what we believed, what we knew, or what we called ourselves - we will be judged according to our willingness to throw ourselves at His feet, discard our old garment of sin, and step into a walk of pure righteousness immersed the Spirit of God.
It's just like a marriage. You can sign the papers at the Court House, but a marriage doesn't mean much if you are not in love with your husband or wife. If all you did was get married so you could clean the house, make the beds, and cook breakfast, then you missed the whole point. So it is with our marriage to our Bridegroom. If our Christianity is casual and superficial, if our relationship is limited to our attendance at church on Sunday morning, if the real focus of our lives is something other than seeking the Face of God and our Christianity is paper-thin, then our salvation is a sham.
If you don't understand what I mean now, you will on the Day of Judgment.
On the other side of the black curtain of night, is a whole round of angels, a multitude of saints, and the God of that created it all. How little we know. But soon - very soon - it shall all be ripped away and we shall see Him as He is. Then Eternity will seem as normal as day.
It will be this life that we went through that will seem like a dream.
Posted 2/13/10 at 2:32 PM | Dale Garris
It's snowing in Texas.
There is a beautiful softness to the landscape as tender flakes slowly cover the ground in a muted blanket. All seems well with the world.
The kids are excited because they're hoping to get out of school. New Englanders wouldn't be quite so thrilled because they have to shovel it, but here in Texas we don't have that problem. We can sit back and enjoy the beautiful scene that is laid down before us. FULL POST
Posted 2/4/10 at 12:58 PM | Dale Garris
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" Matthew 5:13
Whenever I have a get-together, I always invite Barry. Yeah, things can go just fine without him, but when he's there, he adds an extra spice to the party. I guess he's sort of half nuts, but the half of him that's nuts is a real fun nuts. He's kind of like the sweet and sour sauce that goes with your egg rolls ... that is, if you like egg rolls. You can eat them dry, but without the sauce, it tastes like something is missing.
Church is a lot like that. Oh sure, we have wonderful churches, with great pastors and real nice people. And I'm sure you all love your church services. But something is missing.
Ever wonder why so many folks out there are not flocking to your church? And I'm not talking about sinners - I'm talking about Christians! Ask them sometime. You'll find (if you can get around their initial polite responses) that they need something more than what they are finding at church. Something is missing and they are left still hungry when they leave. What is that thing?
It's not the setting or the message or the people. It's something that is difficult to put your finger on, but whatever it is, it isn't satisfying that hunger that so many people have in the depths of their souls.
I brought my family just recently to a service where someone was preaching that I knew was a real servant of the Lord. And it was good ... sort of. All the right theological elements were in place, the preachers said a lot of great stuff, and it was good to be there. But something was missing.
As we drove home, my wife pointed right to it - there was no anointing. Great message, wonderful preachers, nice place ... but no anointing. Egg rolls without sauce.
Posted 1/26/10 at 12:35 AM | Dale Garris
Ever been in a crowded room straining to hear what someone is trying to tell you, but you can't hear anything because of all the noise! That's how I've been feeling lately in the Christian arena. There's so much noise that I can't seem to hear anything that makes sense anymore.
It seems like everybody has a message they have to tell us - as if we've never heard this great new revelation before. I'm glad that all these folks are excited, but pumping out the same old stuff in broad, general strokes is getting kind of old. When are we going to stop talking, and start doing something besides preach to each other? How about taking the message to the streets and winning souls? FULL POST
Posted 12/22/09 at 1:05 PM | Dale Garris
It's Christmastime again. I can't believe that I've been saved for almost 40 years now and have been able to be part of so many real Christmases.
It wasn't always so. As a young man who refused to believe in such nonsense such as a god that I couldn't see, feel, or touch, Christmas remained simply a time of tinsel, pretty lights, Thomas Kincaid settings, and presents that you couldn't afford. What a difference a simple prayer can make!
Over the years, I have heard all the reasons of why we shouldn't celebrate Christmas - and I'm sure you've heard your share also. Born in a desire for righteousness but nurtured in a sea of self-righteousness, the razor-sharp arguments contend for an elimination of anything that smacks of red and green hues. The reasons are prolific. Let's see: FULL POST