RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
God said THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.
Two commandments of the Ten deal with the deadly, defiling, anti-God sin of idolatry, which is having other gods before the One God, Who is the Only True God, Jehovah-Jesus. We practice a user-friendly "soft polytheism" in America and in the churches too--we have other gods, not imaged like Jupiter or Apollo or Athena used to be, but gods nonetheless-- allegiances and passions and commitments and relationships that we put above God in our lives and hearts. Before you get defensive, friend, search your heart as I search mine. And look at your check book and see what you spend most of your money on, that will give you a clear shot at the answer to the question: what gods do you have? what gods do you serve? what things do you put before God? I can testify that I have gone after other things too and found it doesn't pay, except in pain and loss.
Or look where your FEET go? Your feet and their paths tell a lot about you! Mine sure do! Where do your feet go most of the time during the day? Or most often? Do they stay at home, are they shut-in? That says something. You are a homebody, or maybe even self-centered, eschewing society--a recluse, as they used to say, "misanthropic." Or do they most often go to shopping centers? Or to sports events? Or to entertainment centers? Or to cruiseships and excursions and resorts and golf courses and fancy restaurants? Do they go seldom or "whenever convenient" to church, and hardly ever, or not at all, to Wednesday Night Prayer, or Bible study? Do they never go to evangelistic events? Do they never go to mission fields?
Do they never go to homes of the shut-in, the sick, the spiritually needy, the poor, the naked, the hungry, the friendless? Do they just go to your friends who are just like you, where you feel "comfortable"?
Our self-indulgent, "anything goes" mainstream American society is now incurably pagan--that is clear, just look around what people enthusiastically idolize, those things are definitely pagan, they are sex, money, reputation, prestige, violence, Grammy and Oscar Awards, power, celebrity, pleasure, knowledge, position, food and drugs, clothes, cars, and other material things. "Pagan" doesn't mean what it should to us-- we are just so accustomed to the pagan culture, it seems really quite normal, nothing usually to be upset about. But pagan means defilement and idol-worship. Pagans of yesteryear and even today defile themselves by their worship of foul idols. Care to know what defilement means? Imagine jumping into a toxic dump of chemicals and then a cess pool and sticking yourself with all kinds of hypodermic needles used by AIDs patients and drug addicts--that doesn't come close to what defilement from sin and idolatry is in God's nostrils and eyes.
What does this have to do with us? Well, the scripture says we are to be in the world, the pagan mainstream culture of the world and it satan-ruled system, but we are not to be of it. Well, we cannot really claim to have obeyed that, if we are really "of the world." Many of us are pagan worldlings, who sit so nicely in church pews or even preach from the pulpit! We are practicing polytheists, we are of the depraved mainstream culture, we stink to high heaven with sin and rebellion to God, yet we think ourselves true Christians! You may deny this, but here is the proof: it shows in your world-view (and bank book history too!).
Our world-view is either Christian or it is pagan and worldly. It can't be both, or God will have a big problem with you to resolve that is called spiritual schizophrenia. It will reveal itself in our lifestyle what you or I really am, in what camp we specically are a part of and live in and support. If our lifestyle is pretty much the same as our neighbors in this pagan American culture (with all its churches on the street corners or in the center of big to little towns, it is still a pagan society), that should raise a big red flag--but usually it doesn't since our seared, corrupted consciences assure us we are okay if we fit in, if we don't cause trouble with others, if we don't raise eyebrows, if we "go with the flow." Shame, shame on us!
Well, what does world-view have to do with us, other than showing how we think, through what perspective, God's or the world's. World view determines our values, our standards, which form the motivations and guidance system for our lives and the innumerable life and career and family and work choices we make.
World-view makes us Christian or pagans. World-view will determine our spiritual destiny.
How? "Pagan," which originally meant merely "citizen," but it came to mean non-Christian, or a person who did not know or follow Christ but followed the world.
This is a vital distinction today. Pagans, citizens of this world, but not citizens of Heaven, do not go to heaven when they die, they go to hell, the burning refuse dump of the Universe.
Christians, only true Christians saved and born again by God's grace and indwelling of the Spirit of God, are forgiven of their sins and go to heaven. Only Christians have a Christian world-view, the people in the world cannot have a Christian world-view or they would live just the opposite of what they actually do. Why then do so many of us presumed fine people, "Christians," live like the world's people, who are lost, under Satan's rule, defiled, and are condemned to everlasting punishment for their sin?
As Paul well knew in the old Roman Empire society, individual pagans can be very fine people, nobody can deny that, but they will never, never enter heaven and be with the Lord Jesus forever--He says so. He said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me." It is our world-view which is the proof whether we are or are not God's children. Does your world-view say it is all right for you to sin? That is the pagan or the world's view. Does it say you are good enough to make it to heaven, or that your behavior is good enough to merit heaven? That is the pagan view. Does you view say others are not as good as you, and you have a better chance of making it to heaven? That is definitely the pagan or world's view.
Put two horses together to a cart, and if one has a pagan world-view, so to speak, and the other has a Christian world-view, that cart is like hitching together a goat and a cow, or a donkey and a camel, instead of two horses and is going to be torn apart when they get going, for they are going to pull in the opposite directions! See what this means? If you, a Christian, disobeyed God's word and married a non-Christian, your marriage is going to act the same way as those two horses and that one cart. Marriage between a non-believer and a believer in Christ is going to be rocky, to say the least. Most times it will end sooner or later in divorce. Evangelical Christians are surveyed and it is found they are most likely to experience divorce! This is the dismal fact in America. Well, that means there is at least one non-Christian there who thinks she or he is a believer when that is not the case at all. You have a contrary world-view operating, because a non-believer is behind it, though that person believes or calls himself or herself a Christian. That is a deluded person, to say the least. That person is Satan's child, not God's child.
Now that comes down to this, why promote our godly pioneer farm heritage of Alfred and Bergit Stadem on PVF, why present it as anything necessary and good to Stadem descendants and many others of the 21st century. What is is necessary and good about it? That is a good question! Why bother to build a "heritage barn" on PVF, for instance, spending all that money and effort. I have heard discussions of alternatives, and I know some would prefer meeting at parks, they say, and let it all go. But even if we met at parks and spared keeping up a central meeting place on the old Plain View Farm homestead, why bother to have reunions every year, in "off seasons" and "on seasons." Why should there be Samtaleren newsletter with all the postage and effort going into typing it and sending it out for telling of the events on PVF? Yes, the Samtaleren's purose is to tell the events of the reunion and also notify people about on-going projects for the Stadem descendants to, hopefully, take a part in and support however they can--but why do it? Why not just close up shop there and everybody just melt back into the pagan mainstream American culture we all seemingly are content with?
God, the God of the Bible, is the Reason we cannot! It is that simple. He said to his people: "Come out from the midst of them!" "Separate yourselves!" "Be you holy even as I am holy." "Choose you this day whom you shall serve, whether Baal or Me!"
God said a lot of things like that, commanding us to obey him. Have we obeyed as His chidren? Have we? Or are we playing fast and loose with God and the world in our allegiance and in our hearts? Do we have the sinful world-view of this contemporary pagan and secular/humanist culture? Do we sit in the pew of some church and act "Christian" while we are nothing more than polytheistic, a worshiper of various trendy, contemporary things people idolize and pour their time and money into. Just look at the Redbox flicks we watch, or the music CDs we listen to, or the expensive APPs and cell phones we play with all the time! That is what we worship--if we are honest. They all say what we value most in life, do they not, since we lavish our time and money and energy on them.
Do we flee from judging sin and then end up accepting every sin in God's book?
Alfred and Bergit Stadem proved by their lives in every respect that they did not have the corrupt, pagan world-view of the lost, pagan world, they were true, obedient, faithful children of God. They truly lived in the world but were truly not of it. Few of us Stadem descendents would deny this about Alfred and Bergit Stadem, if we know anything about them. Yet we live just the opposite of them, we have merged with the popular pagan culture, and yet are justifying ourselves--"everybody does it," or "we maybe aren't perfect but we try and do our best," etc.
But consider this: This world is literally blowing up all around, and you really stand to lose all things, all your personal peace and affluence, you are working so hard for! The Bible, whether you believe it or not, says so! Isn't it time to take this word seriously, friend? Yes, it is high time, for Christ is coming back soon. Are we ready?
Now maybe you will take seriously the statement, "Come out from the midst of her," meaning you must, you simply must as a Christian or one seeking to be a Christian, depart spiritually from this world. You must divest yourself of your various idols or false gods of sex, money, self, indulgment, pleasure, celebrity, etc. You must find freedom through the power and deliverance and enabling of God is who willing and ready to set you free from this world.
Do what the Bible calls you to do, what God calls you to do, and this will make all the difference, you will soon find! You need not pack your bags (though if you are working in a tavern or casino or abortion clinic, God will want you out of there as soon as possible!) and catch a plane to a far city where it is hoped there is a more Christian setting for you--no, that is not called for. God didn't create monasteries and spiritual recluses, men's religiousness created them. Stay where God planted you, be a Christian there, and God will help you be in the world but not of it. Get in the Word of God daily, confess your sins and failures to God, get them forgiven by God, and enter into a Bible-believing Church. Not every church believes and preaches and obeys the Bible, but there are some. Find one that truly abides by the Bible, and does not water it down with men's teachings and compromises. There are some that truly are such, and if you can't find one. There are godly ministries who can help guide your search. For instance, look up the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and ask them to help you, and they certainly will. They can tell you exactly the scriptural things that will almost certainly guide you to the right kind of church where you can grow and mature as a Christian and a witness for the free gift of salvation of Jesus Christ. God bless you--and contact us for prayer if you wish, we are here and ready to pray for you--Ron Ginther and Mom Pearl Ginther
The following is based on the Christian defender ("apologist," as it is termed) Josh McDowell and his book, "Beyond Conviction," which shows that a major shift from the Christian world-view has taken place in the youth of the evangelical church, a shift toward the pagan world-culture.
We started right, with Alfred and Bergit Stadem, but increasingly, as generations go in this world since the time of Adam and Noah and the Judges, our Stadems are turning pagan and worldly and just like the culture around us that is godless, secular, immoral, and humanist (man-centered and man-worshiping).
We must deal with this, fellow Stadems! We must deal with ourselves too as we are, and change. We must turn back to the Good Way Alfred and Bergit showed us years ago is the right way to go. Or we shall lose not only the Third Generation, but the Fourth that is now the young people among us.
Gradually, each succeeding, spiritually unfocused generation loses or explains away or discards what the previous generation thought was important to life and faith in God. That is a process well known and almost inescapable. The Bible tells us it took God sending many prophets to suffer and even die, to warn the Jewish people to repent and turn back to God after they abandoned Him and took to other gods and philosophies. Are we any different? Honestly, we have to say we are no different. How can we change this gradual abandonment of God? The Jews always had plenty religion, but that doesn't reverse the fatal trend, nor does it impress God any. He knows if it comes truly from the heart or is merely a good show being put on each Sunday.
How can we turn back to God, if we think we don't need to, that we're all basically good people, that we are all (of course, we exclude real bad people, such as rapists and murderers and bigots) going to heaven, that it couldn't be that good people such as ourselves are all going to be held responsible for our sins and face the judgment of Christ and eternal punishment in hell.
A considerable number of us Stadem descendants are missionaries and ministers in churches, but the falling away is all our doing, sorry to say! There are sins of omission as well as commission, right? What we have all produced (I am speaking to my fellow older generation--anyone aged thirty five and older-- here), is a younger generation who thinks and lives even farther from Jesus than we are presently thinking and living. That is the pitiful trend shown in many surveys of churched young people (the saved and born again ones included), and the trend is always downward, or away from God.
We Stadem descendants are part of this generation in secularized America that has abandoned God, though many of us regularly attend church and even are ministers and missionaries in various denominations and missions. Regardless of what we think we are doing is so right and necessary and fruitful, we all share in the downward spiritual spiral of the Stadem relationship.
It is ALL OUR RESPONSIBILITY for what is happening and has already happened, whether we are pricked in the heart by the Holy Spirit and take responsibility for it or not. God holds us all responsible, as his Word tells us repeatedly. Those who truly know what the Gospel is, they are most accountable too for what has happened--a hard truth, but it comes straight from the Bible!
Does it matter to you, concern you any, that so many Stadems are perishing and wandering spiritually, searching in the wrong places for what only Christ can be to them?
Does it really bother you? Show it matters by your actions then! Show it the way the Bible tells us to show it--not just in life example, but in word and deed, and the sharing of the old saving Gospel Story that contains the Salvation of Jesus Christ.
This is really your Invitation, perhaps the last you will receive before Christ's Second Coming, who knows? You may never get this invitation in your own church, if you go to church, and maybe never from your family or even from the relationship of relatives you belong to and identify with the most. Perhaps you may see it here, and see cause to rethink your position and responses regarding salvation and evangelism, personal and corporate. That is good! Very promising, if so!
Isn't it high time to change and get back to sharing the Gospel with our loved ones, not just concentrating on our own family or whomever our mission, ministry, or church has given us as our responsibility, excluding everybody else.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" a guilty Cain flung back at God his Maker. Yes, he was his brother's keeper, but a very poor one at that! He killed his brother, we know, out of envy and spite and anger, since Abel's sacrifice pleased God whereas Cain's was rejected by God. We too can kill, oh yes, we can kill, by ignoring our brothers and sisters', our cousins and uncles and aunts' spiritual conditions within the wider family relationship, letting them go year after year into apostasy, doubt, untruth, addiction and bondage to Satan.
We can look aside as they each stumble toward death and hell, while we and our immediate family are saved or born again and happy as peas in a pod? God save us from such a damnable attitude!
Some churches teach now there is no need for Atonement and no need, therefore, to share Christ with the world, that men are basically good and whatever they sincerely believe in and whatever god they worship is good enough for God, and will gain them entrance to heaven. Howso? Because, they teach, God is not cruel and wouldn't think of sending such folks to hell and damnation forever. (True! He isn't cruel. He won't send them there: they send themselves there by denying the one Savior He sent, His Son, to be their ticket to heaven!).
How cruel these churches and their anti-evangelism teachings are! To deny people the truth that could set them free and save their souls eternally--for what? So we might avoid rejection or disapproval of society or the particular denomination and its politically correct leadership and theology they are promoting today?
Christ never once said this is the way to deal with the people of this lost world, did he?
Is this a real option for Christians, whom Christ, we know, just as he was ascending into heaven, commissioned all his true disciples to go into all the world, making disciples and teaching them to observe everything He had taught. So why not deal with the whole person, holistically, as the historic Christian faith has always done? Why make a change now?
Despite the Great Commission Christ gave us his disciples, we see increasingly comments and reports from people in Christian aid agencies and ministries and even churches that say they have gone to help people in distressed regions, not "judge and convert" people. So anti-conversion is gaining over evangelism, as you and I can see. We all live in this culture and are affected (perhaps too much) by it. Our own Stadem ministries are now reflecting this change, in the third and fourth generations particularly, sad to say, which shows up at our reunions in the silence on the subject of evangelism (perhaps this can be addressed at some time in the future, by a good review of Stadem history and Atlee Svanoe's book on the ministry of the local church). Of course, the enemies of Christ strenuously do not accept the notion that Christians can go anywhere to help people without actively trying to "convert" them to Christianity, so they are killed. World Vision, the world's largest Christian agency bringing disaster relief supplies, food, medical aid, etc., lost aid people that way, killed when they sent workers with humanitarian aid to Indonesia's devastated, tsunami-hit communities. At that time a World Vision supervisor at my church told me that World Vision workers were killed and then stuffed into the same coffins they had brought to Indonesia to put the dead bodies of tsunami victims in to spare the survivors from disease! This is so serious and unpleasant to talk about, but it is life lived today, right in the news, is it not? Aid workers ought to know what they face, even the most temporary aid worker in any agency that helps people in foreign countries, including Mexico (where Christians are being killed for their faith).
The murderous, blood-thirsty Taliban routinely charge Christian aid workers in Afghanistan, for example, with the "crime" of converting Muslims, so ten of them were slaughtered recently, though they were only there to administer dental care (without "proselytizing" Afghans either!). I recall other incidents too, as there is an on-going attack on Christian aid workers across the world, while our faithful, "proselytizing" and "judging and converting" missionaries (such as the New Tribes Mission's, of whom we have several dozen in the Stadem Relationship) have always been under attack and find nothing surprising about any of this. A children's clinical nurse in Beirut was killed by a shot in the face when she answered her door, though she was in Lebanon helping Muslim chidren with their health needs. Her crime in the eyes of the killers? Helping poor Muslim children, being a Christian, being a Westerner too from a free country, she had at least three criminal strokes against her in the eyes of her Muslim attackers!
Despite the history we have cited in part, many Christians (more all the time) reason that Christians in "sensitive areas" ought to quit "judging and converting," in other words, be non-conversionary as possible, so that they will be accepted by the Muslim militants and left to do their humanitarian work. This tactic hasn't worked--both humanitarian aid workers and the traditional, evangelistic "converting-type" missionaries are killed, and will continue to be kidnapped and martyred.
Is there any light on this question that our Stadem heritage can shed?
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