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December 13, 2012

Waiting for Such a Time as This

The first draft of chapter one of Understanding the Times Volume Two: The Battle of Ideas is complete! Let me know what you think of these concluding paragraphs by commenting below:

For most of my life I wished I lived in a Lord of the Rings moment, an age of defining battles and a clear difference between good and evil. The truth is, we do live in an epic time. What we do now will affect the world for hundreds of years, for evil as well as for good. In a world of change, small things often become great in consequence. Karl Marx, notorious founder of the world’s most bloody, miserable worldview, did most of his work alone in a quiet library. When Marx died only a handful attended his funeral. And still, as Dave Breese memorably phrased it, his ideas “rule the world from the grave.”

The battle of our time isn’t just a battle for territory or power. It’s a battle for truth. It is your destiny to battle for truth against lies, for justice against injustice, and for good against evil. This is no accident in God’s sovereign plan. It is time for us to be brave and stand up. C.S. Lewis says in God in the Dock that Christians “are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the Faith.” We give in too much, he says. “We must show our Christian colours, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent and concede everything away.”

Several millennia ago a young Jewish woman named Esther was taken captive from her home and forced to marry King Xerxes, one of the most cruel and pompous kings of ancient history. Sometime afterward, Esther’s uncle Mordecai uncovered a plot, hatched by one of the king’s trusted advisors, to massacre the Jewish people. Mordecai urged Esther to intercede with the king. She informed him that the king, in his paranoia, would have anyone killed who came into his presence without invitation including, presumably, his own queen. But Mordecai pressed her to act by saying, “Who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Perhaps we, too, have come to a royal position for such a time as this.

Maybe you’re still wondering whether standing for truth is really necessary. And if so, what is the nature of the battle we are fighting? What does the enemy look like? With what kinds of weapons are we to fight? On these points, as we shall see in Chapter Two, Christianity offers such surprising answers that the world is still caught off guard two thousand years after Christ walked the earth.

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  • December 13, 2012 // 05:07 am //  # 
    Abigail Snyder's avatar Abigail Snyder

    I love this! The allusions to Lord of the Rings, 7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave, and even the story of Esther in Scripture create a powerful medley to reinforce the idea that truth is always at the center of the battle. The symbols and methods of warfare may change, but the heart of the matter will always be the answer to the question “What is Truth?” I am excited for the culmination of this project—I own the old version, but will gladly purchase (and read) the new version when it is released!

  • December 13, 2012 // 08:46 am //  # 
    Bryan Hart's avatar Bryan Hart

    I really enjoy the LOTR perspective, and I think it draws in the attention of the guys in the audience most. In fact, I was thinking, “I wonder what the ladies would gain from this excerpt?” But then you brought in Esther, which, as Abigal says, makes this a very strong set of illustrations to prove your point.

    I look forward to the work.

  • December 13, 2012 // 12:40 pm //  # 
    jane barnard's avatar jane barnard

    Maybe you’re still wondering whether standing for truth is really necessary. And if so, what is the nature of the battle we are fighting? What does the enemy look like? With what kinds of weapons are we to fight?

    this paragraph really sums up the course.  I taught the material this Fall and preparing to teach again in Jan.  wish the new materials were ready.

    Consider making the 4 books into short lessons on a 13 week series (each) to use in Sunday School.

  • December 13, 2012 // 12:55 pm //  # 
    Donny Franklin's avatar Donny Franklin

    We are definitely and absolutely living in a defining age when the difference between good and evil is so clearly defined.  So much history that provides known outcomes must be communicated by each and every Christian by showing our “colours.” We cannot remain silent!

  • December 17, 2012 // 02:46 am //  # 
    Renee McLamb's avatar Renee McLamb

    Teaching “Understanding the Times” some 10 years ago literally changed my life! As I begin to see the full picture of how the Bible speaks to all of life, it created a sense of urgency within me to prepare young people to know truth. Although being a Christian for over 40 years and faithful to the church and all of its programs and then attending a Christian college…NOTHING prepared me for my calling and purpose within Christian Education like Understanding the Times! I look forward with eager anticipation to the new version! Blessings on your ministry!

  • December 28, 2012 // 01:58 am //  # 
    Nathan Straub's avatar Nathan Straub

    I enjoyed the paragraphs, especially the motivational quality and the powerful images of Marx in his library, Esther outside the palace. However, as I started reading, the first paragraph bogged me down a bit.

    For one thing, the ambiguity or unnaturalness of the phrase “great in consequence” slowed me down.

    Second, I was distracted by the inflammatory language regarding Marx as the “notorious” founder of a “bloody, miserable worldview”. Yes, it’s true that Marxists have killed millions of people. But I had to review my history to see exactly what they’d done, and whether “bloody” and “miserable” were accurate. Just know that it is a bold statement, and it brings to mind all the politics of the Cold War, including both the hysteria of McCarthyism and the violence of Marxism.

    This book is an in-house work for us Christians, and it should be motivational. But as someone living in SE Asia, I see less of the battle rhetoric in churches here, maybe because of the desire to win over Buddhists who are all about peace.

    It’s too much to ask you to contextualize your message for SE Asia here, when it’s hard enough to contextualize it for modern-day America. But you asked for our thoughts, so here you go.

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