Carl Sandburg wrote, “One of the things that America needs to rediscover is the art of creative solitude.”

He was referring to our need to think—our need to mentally tackle thorny issues.

The reason we need to think is that we don’t need the same conclusions that are based on many of the same old wrong values. “Sameness” is often comfortable, isn’t it? But don’t forget, Jesus came to bring change, to challenge traditional thinking. He continually talked about our need for transformation. Something new. Something original—not more mundane conformity. New “stuff.”

I’m going to share with you some questions that I’ve been grappling with. You know, those piercing, thorny questions that no one wants to face.

Remember Br’er Rabbit? Br’er Rabbit loved the briar patch. To him it was home. He thrived in a spot that most of us avoid at all costs. Everybody ought to have a briar patch, so allow me to lead you into mine. A patch full of prickly questions. I hope they challenge your thinking.

Jump in and risk a thorn or two. This may be the first article you need to read with gloves on!

The briar patch

Does Jesus Christ change lives … I mean really change people?

If He does, then why are there tens of millions of people in America who claim to be born again Christians who are making so little impact on society today? Why do so many apparently neglect the issues of abortion, pornography, and sexual permissiveness?

I wonder what kind of kids we will raise? I wonder if they’ll just scratch their heads about our apathy or will they clench their fists in rebellion and reject a religion that appears socially worthless?

Can a person be born again and not do anything about evil?

Why do less than 10 percent of Christians regularly share their faith? Why are we afraid to witness to our neighbors—when their eternal destiny is at stake? Why are we ashamed of the Good News of Christ’s death for people’s sins? Why is there no need to persecute and ultimately put to death Christians today?

Why do we talk so little about hell? About judgment? About Divine accountability? Why are we so serious about the things that are passing away and so casual about the things that are eternal?

How can we be consistently troubled by pictures of starving children in third world countries and never do any thing tangible about it … except feel sorry for them?

Why are so many Christian men aggressive leaders at work and passive, disengaged blobs at home?

Why are we so embarrassed about talking to our kids about sex and decide, by silent default, to let the world teach them its distorted values about this holy gift from God? Why don’t we talk to them about how the world perverts and degenerates what God has designed?

Why do so many say they are going into secular work to make it their ministry and have little or no fruit to show for their “call of God”?

Why does the business world continually get so many of the most talented, gifted, and well-trained Christians? Why do they end up helping big business make its millions while there is a leadership crisis in the church today? Why does the Bible seem to omit the subject of our careers and talk so much about our character?

How come churches that deny the deity of Christ, undermine the authority of the Scriptures, and call God “She” have so many cars parked out front on Sunday morning? I wonder if we should keep on driving by, Sunday after Sunday—or go in and challenge them publicly? Remember, Jesus did!

Why does the fear of risk and failure paralyze us, keeping us from trying new ideas, new vistas, and attempting the impossible for Christ? Why does it seem there are so few good, wholesome models for our kids?

Why does it seem that many of our adult “heroes” are falling like flies? Why have numerous ministers and missionaries washed out of the ministry because of immorality and huge character flaws?

Why am I tempted to become cynical and distrustful of everyone? Why am I surprised by failures in God’s people when the entire New Testament is a chronology of struggling saints and defective disciples who saw Christ alive from the dead?

Why do we expect so much from our pastor yet don’t shoulder the load of ministry with him? Why do we seldom write a letter to our pastor thanking him for his labor of love to our lives and family? Why do so many pastors suffer in secret from depression? Why are so many pastors leaving the ministry today?

How come Jesus said that a man’s cancelled checks are the real statement of his values? How come we make more but give less?

Why do we see few elderly Christians who are living vital, contagious Christian lives? Did God sanction retirement?

Why don’t we call our mom or dad more frequently? Why does their mailbox so seldom carry our message of appreciation and honor? I wonder if I’ll want my children to write when I grow old?

How could any Christian live a business-as-usual, mundane life and experience so little of the supernatural work of God in his or her life, and be content?

Why do the things that are so valuable get so little of our time and attention? Why do things that won’t matter 10 years from today bother us and make us angry? Why are we so nonchalant about the legacy we will leave?

Why are so many Christian parents so negative about children? Why are there a growing number of Christian couples who can have children but choose not to?

Why do so many of us treat Jesus Christ like a spare tire? Why do we get so serious about God when we’ve got a flat tire, and so complacent when prosperity opens up a smooth road to us?

Why do so many Christians counsel other Christians to get a divorce? Why is the divorce rate within the walls of the church approaching that of what it is in the world?

Why do many Christians seem to fail to grapple and struggle with their mission or sense of purpose in life? Why is there so little urgency in the church for the Great Commission? What are we waiting for? Can American Christians be blasé when our brothers and sisters in foreign countries have little of the training, leadership, and materials that we have there?

Why don’t we talk much about the second coming of Jesus Christ anymore?

Why don’t we like to ask ourselves these questions? Why do we seldom come to any kind of answer, conclusion, or conviction and act upon it?

And one last question: Why will many of us be sorry we didn’t take God more seriously when one day we shall stand before Him and give a complete account of our lives?

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