Christ Redemption Through Grace (Identity and Purpose)

On 12 August, I was honored to share my Redemption Testimony in front of the CR Group for Journey Community Church in Augusta, Georgia. I was not allowed to record the session due to sensitivities surrounding the CR Group, but below is a transcript of my notes as I shared my own personal redemption through the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

Some have been Christians their entire lives, or at least for as long as they can remember; I myself am coming up on 11 years next month – to this, I give Him all of the Glory and Honor – Praise God!!  But, does my 11 years pale in comparison to the lifelong Christian? Is there a ranking that I am not aware of or cannot locate in the bible?  Does the lifelong Christian move along through life with no worries, no grief, no pain, no struggles?  No, for the struggle is real for all of us.

From my earliest memories as a toddler through roughly my pre-teen years, my dad would regularly remind me that I was not worth it, that I would not amount to anything. That I was worthless. When I reached my pre-teen years, this changed to silence and abstinence. We did manage 2 week vacations practically every year, but we were never close as father and son. We were not a part of each others lives. Thank God I recognized later how limited my thought processes were. My dad was doing the best he could based on his own flawed relationship with his father. 

Somehow, I managed to attend a Christian Elementary School (K-6) but my formative teenage years were stereotypical of a southern Californian kid during the 1980’s. Drugs, bicycling, boarding, and partying.  
 
I joined the Army in 1987 right out of high school. I needed to get away from dad and family, needed a new beginning, a purpose, a new identity. 
 
It was not long before I started to destroy people around me, which I did for more than 20 years afterwards. “Get out of my way” with a little bit of collateral damage along the way.
 
There were times when satan tried to take me out before I received Christ, and after. Physically, mentally, financially, relationally, and emotionally. Every time, every occasion, the hand of the Lord was there for me and my family. I just did not see Him.
 
What I realized after coming to Christ is that growing up through adult hood, I never knew my true identity. Because I did not know my identity, I did not understand my purpose.
 
I was orphaned as a sinner.  I did not know the names the Lord had given me.  I was victim to whatever the world threw at me, enveloped into the fallen world of Adam.
 
What do you believe your name to me?  Liar, thief, failure, unworthy, unloveable and unlikeable for starters? These were the names that I received from my father and I carried with me for almost 40 years.
 
I did not love myself, even with 20 years of military service how could my brothers in arms love me? I was not worthy of love and I was in short supply of love to give out.
 
It was during Desert Storm that I experience my first true “life pivot”. The details of this story can be found in my book titled “My Personal Desert Storm: Eating Crow and Humble Pie”, but in short, I managed to turn my life around, but I became obsessed with success – “Success Sickness”. I pivoted from the extreme right of the heart spectrum to the extreme left of the spectrum.
 
My wife recommitted to Christ while I was deployed to Desert Storm. She would pray for me for the next two decades. I experienced a very real and physical born again experience over labor day weekend in 2008. God did not give me a second chance, He gave me a new life.
 
Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)  I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
 
For me, Jesus came to me as the Light of the world and saved me from the darkness I was just as written in John 8:12.  As we also read in 1 Peter 2:9, He called me out of the darkness and into His light.  This allows the character of Jesus to come out when I realize that what was once weak has been raised in glory (1 Cor 15:43). But the struggle is still real.
 
It was a few years after my born again experience that I recognized the wounds of my heart, given to me from the wounds of my father. Chains had been passed from son to son. -hurting people hurt people. My father had inherited chains from his father and so he passed them on to me. These are the results of generational sins and curses. Unfortunately, I would also pass my inherited chains and my own chains on to my first born son Christoffer.
 
I would later learn about the power of forgiveness. I also learned that it is not our parents fault. 
 
I would eventually tell my father that I forgive him -which I share in some detail in my book- after I had established a relationship with my heavenly Father. I was no longer orphaned. I had new names as I now recognize myself based on the Heart of my Father and Jesus Christ who died for me.
 
Jesus Christ did not die just so we could have a good day or get away with sinning on a regular basis. Galatians 5:13 reminds us that we shall not abuse the freedom we now have in Christ. The names of God (Holy Spirit): Advocate, Comforter, intercessor, spirit of Truth, spirit of God, helper (paraclete), Counselor, teacher,
 
1 John 2:1 ….And if anyone sins, we have an Advocatewith the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous John 14:16…. He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever
John 14:26. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teachyou all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you
Rom 8:26-27….the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered…..He makes intercessionfor the saints according to the will of God.
Isaiah 11:2. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counseland might, The Spirit of knowledgeand of the fear of the Lord
 
Once baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was awakened to my new names:  worthy, trustworthy, lover, friend, and when my wife is angry at me, “Marcus Johnson!”.
 
We are flawed, but this flaw is in the flesh, not in our spirits.  His Spirit is with our spirit which has “freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom 8:2).  Romans 8:9 continues to remind us that we are not controlled by our sinful nature (our flesh), we are controlled by the Spirit.   Therefore, if we remain in obedience to Him and walk with him at ALL times, He will correct us before our fleshy temptations condemn us to an act of sin.  But the struggle is real. Paul reminds us: 
 
Rom 7:17  So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.  
Rom 7:22-23   I love God with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to sin that is still within me. 
 
The good news: 
 
Rom 7:25  Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…. 
1 John 1:9  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 
 
In February 2011, satan executed a massive attack on my family when he took our oldest son from us. Killed in action in the middle east, this one almost worked, took me down. Even though it took a few years to recover from this one, if I had not had the Word of God in me and my wife, I would not be standing here in front of you today. His Word is clear to me in my heart and my mind. Though I flailed a bit like a chicken with his head cut off, I eventually recovered, stronger than ever.  The lesson is one of victimhood.
 
I am no longer a victim of what happened, I am now an expert in recovery from action.
 
A victim mentality will keep you bound to that trauma or frustration and will sabotage any hopes or attempts to prosper. A victim mentality is resignation to weakness and powerlessness, and it becomes ones modus operandi. It automatically disqualifies you and dictates what you will or won’t do. The challenge is whether you identify yourself as the victim, or the victimizer – and admitting/confessing it. How can you see what is in front of you if you fail to recognize what is inside of you? When our own hearts condemn us, there is no power in prayer, no power in preaching.
 
My born again experience was over powering and so over whelming that I instantly knew that I had been wrong my entire life. I had the epiphany that “I am all in and I guess I am now one of ‘them’”. I started in faith, I started going, and I started to press forward.
 
Some Christians are really skilled at covering their flaws and look pretty externally. And even those that look pretty on the outside usually get disillusioned or just end up judgmental because they are “nailing it” (heart issues??). I happen to be “that guy” that occasionally wears my train wreck on his sleeve. But I keep going, I keep the faith and I keep pressing forward.
 
The Lord reminded me that no matter who you are or what you do, God has chosen you. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you live, how much money you have, your position, whether you are articulate or not. Let Him fulfill all your desires and worship Him.
 
But I learned, the hard way, that we have got to have a fresh encounter with God – every day.
 
I would not know my purpose if I had never learned of my true identity. My identity is as a warrior for Christ. Every warrior needs a kingdom to defend and a King to fight for. Therefore, my purpose is to serve as a soldier for Christ and the Kingdom of God. Wherever this takes me and whatever task He gives me, I am there for Him.
 
I used to be a solder for the US Army (20 years), this has instilled certain things in me, values, character traits (some good, some bad) and discipline. I have a voice that carries, I have passion, I get enthusiastic. I zig and I zag. I mentioned this to the Lord when clarifying His plans. The Lord chastized me with vibrant YES, He wants to use that, He has called me to transition from soldier to warrior. I am now a warrior for the Kingdom. But every warrior needs a weapon, warriors need a sword. Ephesians 6:17 tells us about the “The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”.
 

Logos – written word of God

Rhema – Spoken Word of God

God’s Word speaks to me, it lives in me. While challenged to memorize specific scriptures, I recognize God’s character.

John 7:38“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
 
We MUST arm our new warriors and we MUST get them their sword, else they are always on the defense and cannot take the offense. This is what excites me today. God took me from being rebellious to a revolutionist for Jesus Christ. Satan may have thought that he was winning at those moments where he tried to take me out but all he did was make me angry and strengthen my resolve to work harder for the Lord. I am tired of playing defense. His attacks on me have lit a fire in me to proclaim victory but that means we have to take spiritual action. I am in ministry training today but each day, through the gift of His spirit, I grow closer to Him, I know Him more intimately, and I will run the race He has set before me. We need to go out and take possession of the gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit.
 

Tit 3:5  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Rom 5:5  …. hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
 
I know that I am a flawed human being, but I also know that God loves me 100%, as is, right now. There are some church people that are good at following the rules but there are also many Christians out there acting out in judgment instead of compassion and love.
 
Like many here, I can be outrageous on occasion when I should be silent and I can be neutral silent on other occasions when I should be loud. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, He see’s opportunity for growth. When I want to give up, He whispers “No, you can make it”. This is why, even if I may suck at being a Christian, I keep going, I keep the faith, and I keep pressing forward.
 
So maybe if we can all accept the idea that Gods love is wholly separate from our actions or our problems, receive it and give it to others, maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel its important to beat people down with their theology or doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people.
 
Maybe then, even millennials will stop looking at Christians as bigoted and judgmental and out of touch with the times. I think that maybe then, we might even just see Christs kingdom here on earth. Here is the race set before me and others!
 
This is what I have learned based on this question – I have been in training for this my entire life, I just didn’t know it.
 
If you still don’t believe in miracles then ask my wife how long she prayed for my deliverance. Ask her if she ever thought that I would be standing in front of a group of people like this talking about Jesus and the life He has in store for us. 
 
I found my purpose. I found my strength. I want others to find theirs. No matter what it takes!
 

Amen


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 9 – By The Grace of God

The key to a Christian view of citizenship is moderation and balance between the extremes of placing too much trust and energy into human efforts to change the world and the opposite error of sitting back and doing nothing because we feel the situation is hopeless.

The Christian should not have an overly optimistic view of human efforts as human affairs are so corrupt that they can never be corrected by human effort. Injustice is always present in the world and it will remain till judgment day. No amount of utopian dreaming, no amount of human effort is going to remove it. Dreams of an earthly utopia based on human effort are doomed to failure. As long as we are in the world, we will have to live with evil.

Simultaneously, our role is not fulfilled by standing on the sidelines of life, bemoaning the evil condition of the world and longing for the return of the ”good old days.” There never have been any “good old days” since Eden. We are here to use the gifts God has given us to the best of our ability in the present. God tells us not to trust in human effort and not to worry about the future. But he also tells us just as emphatically to get to work to serve the best interest of his kingdom and of our neighbors.

Someone unknown wrote, “I am only one man, but I am one man. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.”

Biblical characters such as Joseph, Daniel, and Naaman actively served their governments without compromising their principles. In this area, too, we must not be paralyzed into inaction by fear of failure, but trust God’s guidance and forgiveness. Who can serve the government better then a Christian?

Only a true Christian can have truly unselfish motivation, for he realizes that true happiness is not a life cluttered with possessions and accomplishments, but a life filled by Christ. A Christian citizen does not have to grasp and claw for his own advantage. He can risk himself and his own interests. He can let go of self-interest because he knows that Christ is his solid possession.

“Dangerous times call for leaders that threaten to undo everything Hell is trying to pull off. NOW is the time for a gathering of enlightened warriors. No more timid dreams. The battle of your lifetime rages in the heavenlies and God answers by releasing new champions to the field. THIS IS YOUR HOUR!” ~ Lance Wallnau


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 8 – Christian Dual Citizenship

As Christians, our dual citizenship in the Kingdom and our nation involve dual obligations and loyalties.

Consider this “definition” of dual citizenship found on the U.S. Immigration website: Dual citizenship means that an individual is a citizen of two countries at the same time…Dual citizenship is not something that can be applied for. It is a process that happens when a person becomes a citizen of another country, in addition to his or her country of birth. Dual citizenship occurs automatically for some individuals. 

Citizenship is a publicly recognized legal status that authorizes someone to be a citizen—that is, a full and functioning member of a civitas, a social and political community, along with the rights and duties that come along with it. Unlike someone who is merely a subject in a kingdom, a citizen participates in the community to help maintain civic order.

If you put your faith in Christ the Bible tells us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). However Jesus, before going to the cross, prayed for his disciples and for us because he knew that we “are still in the world” (John 17:11).  The dual citizenship we have often leaves us struggling.  We want to honor our heavenly citizenship, but we also want to enjoy the worldly benefits of our “natural” citizenship. Don’t check out of the world.  Remember that you are in Christ AND in America.

As such, we should be among the foremost champions of freedom of speech and of religion for all. Even Muslims, Hindu’s, and Buddha’s, amongst others, should want Christians involved in politics. Christian citizens benefit American society as a while because Christians understand that they must respect the right of other Americans to believe differently—or not believe at all—even as they earnestly contend to communicate their faith.

Christians must understand the fundamental reality that creating a tolerant and fair playing field for Christians means creating one for everyone. This means we should practice our faith with certain degrees of caution while also being bold. Coerced faith is no faith at all.

As briefly highlighted earlier, our Declaration is filled predominantly with references to God and/or filled with sermon messages. Therefore, the argument that our nation was not founded based upon Judeo Christian values is a lie, people just want to ignore the truth because it does not fit their definition of morality and behavior. It is the first sentence of the second paragraph that lays out the statement that we “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”.

Our elected officials derive their power from the consent of the governed; our Congressmen and Women are NOT our boss, even if they say they are. The Declaration is then filled with 27 grievances against the monarchy, which violate our rights ordained from God. All of these “rights and grievances” are derived from sermons as written and preached from Reverend John Wise of Massachusetts some 80-90 years before the Declaration was written.

Finally, the first sentence of the last paragraph concludes by “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world”. The last sentence of the last paragraph declares “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”.  It is adamantly clear that our Founding Fathers placed a heavy reliance on God to guide the future of our nation. So, does any of this matter today?

The Declaration is our National Philosophy which, in turn, guides the principles and morals covered in our US Constitution, so, yes, it matters. If we neglect or rule out the providence that is the basis of our Constitution, then how can we sustain and maintain our constitutional freedoms. Our forefathers were also concerned about this and wrote numerous letters of warning and concern about this, but that is unfortunately for another time.

A Christian does not participate or engage in civil affairs just to serve his own interests. His purposes are to glorify God in his works, to promote conditions in which the Gospel may be preached freely, and to serve the best interests of his neighbors by seeking justice for all, by protecting the rights of individuals, and by hindering evil.

Christians must always guide their conduct by God’s law. Even when the standards of society crumble, Christians have a firm foundation to build on. No matter how much man’s decisions and decrees undermine moral foundations, this truth remains “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Tim 2:19).


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 7 – Christians Must Be Engaged

As citizens of America, we have spent too much time running with mindless sheep strictly following the will of man. Now, these same people (the mindless sheep), think it strange that you do not run with them anymore and they now speak behind your back or spew hatred at you directly. In either case, our current political and cultural environment is impacting your ability to preach the Gospel beyond the walls of your church building. Therefore, Christians MUST be engaged in politics and culture; else the attempts to “privatize” Christian values can prevail. “Well, God will take care of it.” God takes care of things through His people.

We have people at work to privatize our cultural values. Privatization is a process that forces a disconnect between private and public lives. Basically, keep your most sacred beliefs private.  The secular, and liberal, mindset is to keep church in church and don’t you dare do it anywhere else. I use to believe that, even telling my wife after she came to Christ to keep at the door of our house. Man, was I wrong! It is these sets of man made rules that impact what you do every day. Politics AFFECTS what you say from the pulpit and what and how you operate beyond the walls of the Church.

Jesus chastised the Pharisee’s in Matthew 23 for having neglected the more important matters of the law (justice, mercy, etc). Sometimes Jesus was right in your face and telling you that you need to change. Jesus was tough, not the politically correct, feminized Jesus.  We have a party that does not care if you have religious objections against abortion or homosexuality and their positions are becoming significantly more aggressive and open. You either comply or we will persecute you, we will hurt you, we will remove you.

In Canada, after significant Christian activism, theaters finally relented and planned to show the movie “Unplanned”. However, soon after they made this decision, they received death threats as well as threats of mass violence if they did this. The result was that the theaters removed the movie again. This is what the progressive movement is all about – forcing you to comply, or else!  And, making it worse, the current senior politicians in office in Canada, support the removal of this movie and are speaking out against its message. The issues are real and the threat is real – but we cannot sit back, we have an opportunity in America to be engaged, be involved, in civil engagement.

Christians have a wide variety of political notions but we need to be informed of the policies, engaged in the process, and active in the promotion of godly discourse. As we live our lives, we are to keep our eye on the permanent Kingdom of Heaven, but we should also keep our other eye on the culture in which we live.  We should never come to a place where we are Hope-less, where we despair.

Kings rule, and while there may be people at work to influence who that is going to be, but God over-rules. Here, today, American’s live in a nation that, as Lincoln put it, “in a Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  Jesus said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; but, we get to vote in our Caesar, the people of Jesus time did not. So, in order to obey that command, remember our dual citizenship; responsible in the Kingdom and responsible on the earth as well.

Christian citizens support their nation best when they are both patriotic and prophetic. From a Christian perspective, patriotism entails a healthy love of country that recognizes their nation state as a gift of God. That gift is good, but like all of God’s earthly gifts, it is temporal and imperfect. Also like other divine gifts, it requires careful stewardship. Christians, then, do not have the option to opt out of the system. Rendering to Caesar means voting, paying taxes, and being informed about issues, both national and local.


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The Johnson Amendment of 1954

Know how to bring some excitement about the Tax Code into the church?  Talk about the Johnson Amendment.

After the election season of 1954, Lyndon Johnson (a Democrat) was upset that two businessmen (Frank Gannett and H.L. Hunt) had opposed him during his reelection bid through their charitable non for profit organizations. They had opposed him because they felt he was too soft on communism. This is, of course, during the height of McCarthyism. Nonetheless, Johnson’s ego and pride had been bruised by these two guys.  

When a bill in the Senate was introduced to overhaul the tax code, Johnson added a few words to the tax code that would restrict affected organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. What later became known as the Johnson Amendment passed with no discussion and only a voice vote. It was actually a bi-partisan amendment, pushed by the GOP and signed off by President Eisenhower.   When President Reagan revisited the Tax Code in 1986, it was decided to leave that amendment in there.

Out of twenty-nine 501c not-for-profit categories, Johnson only added language to muzzle the c3 category, which all churches are part of. Ironically, Johnson was not after the church, he was after those charitable organizations that had opposed him. The church, as a result, became an unintended victim.

This amendment made it “illegal” for pastors too include language in their sermons that might be construed to either support or endorse political candidates for office. However, while many agree about specific lines that cannot be crossed, what was not fully defined is how to decide what “oppose” or “support” fully means from an IRS code perspective; therefore, the analysis is somewhat subjective based on the IRS agents involved.

At conflict is the fact that the First Amendment of the US Constitution restricts the IRS from being the “pulpit police”. The truth of the matter is that the IRS is not allowed to dictate what a pastor can say from the pulpit.  However (there it is again) – when a church applies for a 501C(3) status,  there is a degree of honor to be expected from the church, that they will adhere to the agreements set forth in the 501C(3) section of the IRS code.  A church DOES NOT have to apply for c3 status.

Since 2008, 3000 pastors, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have publicly endorsed or supported political candidates from the pulpit. They recorded these sermons and mailed them directly to the IRS.  As of late 2018, the IRS has not taken any action against any of them – not one. Many agree that this is primarily due to man power issues at the IRS. However, in 1995, the IRS did go after a church in upstate New York that ran active campaigns against Bill Clinton. That church did lose its tax exempt status.

The bottom line is that the First Amendment protects what pastors can, and cannot say, from the pulpit. But, many pastors have bought into the Johnson Amendment anyway, primarily because of the tax exempt status. I wonder how many churches would be willing, or capable, to toss away their tax exempt status to take back some of their religious liberty?  How many churches would survive, or die, as a result? 

I heard a pastor tell me over the last few weeks that he believes in the Separation of Church and State, which does not exist. Separation of Church and State (a misappropriated statement from Thomas Jefferson) is sometimes confused with the establishment clause. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. From a pastors perspective, there you go – that’s all there is.

Fortunately, even with 501C3 status, Pastors are NOT restricted from discussing government or cultural affairs. We have bought into the myth that pastors must remain silent. Because the church has remained – almost – silent over the last 60 years or so, we have a new generation of church goers that have been raised up into a myth that has become their reality. The result is that because we have a silent pulpit, we now have a silent pew. A silent pew has resulted in an uninformed electorate. An uninformed electorate will never know what God might have to say about how civil government should be run.

It generally boils down to the basic principal of government versus liberty, and liberty should always win.

This begs a good question: If the church could reconstruct government today – what would it look like? As I believe that church denominational lines have been drawn along political lines, I am not sure that the church today, in the US, could reconstruct government. That is my opinion anyway.

We love all of you. God bless.

 

References:

 

https://davidfiorazo.com/2015/05/the-johnson-amendment-and-the-agenda-to-silence-christians/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otOYnmGHT_s


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 6 – Our National Birth Certificate

Our Declaration of Independence is our nations birth certificate – it sets forth the philosophy of our country. It is also noteworthy that every single right written on the Declaration had been preached from the pulpit prior to 1773. Basically, the Declaration of Independence is a set of sermon topics. The Declaration of Independence concludes, in the last paragraph, by appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world. That can only be our Lord and Father.

We have those in service in the government that continue to push to turn portions of God’s word into political issues, thereby, causing Churches to break the law if they speak on it. Unfortunately, I continue to read about and see videos where Christians support these moves in government. We might as well start tearing chapters of the bible out of our books, else we will break the law if we speak on it.

Christians cannot remain silent. Christians should not wait until election seasons to be engaged and involved. The Lord warns us in Isaiah 56:10 that His Leaders, of His people, are blind and ignorant, like watchdogs with no bark. They would rather be lazy, sleeping and dreaming.

How would you feel if your human father felt about you that way? Would you do anything to change his mind?

So, the number of messages and issues are huge, I am overwhelmed and feel like a fish out of water. What do I do with all of this? Not every issue will resonate with you, not every issue will hold a place in your heart; but there are those that will. When you hear of, or read about, something happening in our culture, be it in government or something else, and it resonates with you: you think on it (meditate), you learn all you can about it (study), and you get informed (you gain knowledge).

You do this long enough to get prepared, ready, and vigilant. We can then respond accurately, and with specificity, in prayer and in our activities. We absolutely need Christians involved in the actual cultural and political processes, we need to help shape policy.

We keep one eye, always, on God and trusting Him, but, the only thing needed for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing. So, if you are ok with things getting worse, then do nothing. If you are NOT ok with things getting worse, then do something.

The role of the church and the role of the Christian are not the same.  The church should be more careful than the Christian as we interact in our communities and society. I do believe it to be true that Pastors must focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I do not believe that Pastors should be avoiding topics about our national climate or current events. As a matter of fact, I believe this to be dangerous. Recall the story from Jeremiah where we had Jews exiled in Babylon and their lives were miserable because they refused to pray for their government and speak out about issues that impacted their community.

It has been said, by some ministers and pastors, that when a Pastor dabbles in politics, he is prostituting himself away from the Gospels. This could not be further from the truth and history indicates this. Our culture is in crisis and it is because influential ministers have been sharing the wrong message and driving Christians away from the culture. What about the Pastors that do not speak about politics and culture because they are afraid of the government, or, they are afraid that they will offend some of their constituents?  Fear is faith too. Some believe that the Church thrives best when it is under persecution.

Who is he that will harm you, if you follow what is good? When they defame you, those who revile your good conduct in Christ will eventually be ashamed.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 5 – Christian Profile of Leadership

God becomes your problem when you remove Him. If, then, God is your problem, your first concern should not be who is in the White House, but who is in your house.  If He is causing your distress, then time shouldn’t be wasted on putting someone into office who can take care of our distress, but on getting God back on our side. We can operate by ensuring our candidates will hold up to His principles. We also do this be reviving the church back to the glory that God expects and desires. It is not that Jesus Church is not operating in glory for the Kingdom, but, glory is waning in the nation, where we, and the flock lives. 

AID’s is a disease that does not kill you, but it does destroy your immune system which allows other diseases to come in and kill your body. God’s immune system in our culture, is the Church. When the immune system breaks down, culture breaks down. Until the immune system of God, the church, is brought back up, the viruses of destruction will continue to destabilize our country, ebb away at our freedoms, and take away our liberty.

There are forces at work to remove, or rewrite, the true founding of America which is part of the makeup of our heritage. These same forces are working diligently and strategically to remove the basic foundational truths of God’s Word from our culture. They are stealing godly “moral correctness” and are misappropriating it by stating that true moral correctness is whatever we, as men, decide it is. Therefore, biblical moral correctness is now immoral because it violates whatever a person determines to be morally correct at that point in time.

Karl Marx said, “Take away the heritage of the people, and they are easily persuaded”.  It is also written in Psalm 11:3 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  This is what the evil forces are doing.

Some believe that Trump does not fit the profile that Christians want in their President but let’s be clear, I do not believe that it is he that is destroying our national foundations, he is fighting to protect them. Trump is working as hard as possible to protect both our heritage and our religious freedom, and he is fighting against extraordinary forces to do this. Trump hates politics, although he loves the challenge. Trump may speak like a soldier in combat (via Twitter), but he will not back down and take flak from anyone. In the face of adversity, Trump is displaying more courage than many of us today.

Trump is extremely egotistical and he may even be a narcissist, but I believe that he loves this country – even if for selfish reasons. However, it does seem that there are other opposing forces that are, in fact, working diligently, piece by piece, to take away our American heritage and our religious liberties.

Regarding Trump not fitting a profile that many Christians expect or demand, we can take a look at some characters from the Bible. Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, and Xerxes amongst others, were pagan leaders that most definitely did not fit the godly profile of a leader, yet, they allowed, supported, endorsed, or pursued things that were good in the eyes of the Lord and for His people. God even referred to them as His servants. Can God not do this anymore? Have we boxed God in because Trump does not fit the profile of who we might consider a great and positive Christian man? 

Lets take a look at Jimmy Carter, who in the eyes of people at the time, absolutely fit the bill and profileof a born again believer. Many considered this critical and fit the desired profile, but is this what qualified him for the position?  While he was tremendously successful after his Presidency, with habitat for humanity and other philanthropic efforts, he is considered by many to have been the worse President in history, yet he espoused Christianity and his beliefs to anyone that would hear him.

Proverbs 13:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation”. How do you measure righteousness? God’s standards. How do you get God’s standards for a nation? In one particular verse, Isaiah 1:26, God is speaking to Isaiah, “Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City.”

This verse tells us that righteousness is tied to a nation based on the types of judges you have.Who appoints judges in the US? The President. So, while most think that it is the President that exalts righteousness on a nation, it is really the judges that he appoints; this is why we have seen so much attention on judge appointments since President Trump has taken office. 

So, if during a Presidential election you cannot make a clear decision on which candidate to vote for, take a look at the types of judges they will appoint, for that is what exalts righteousness on a nation. Also remind yourself that most of these appointments are for life, so, as judges are appointed, they could impact the court systems for 3-4 decades.

Finally, watch what our current leaders and potential future leaders exhibit regarding their positions about Israel. When it comes to perspectives on executive, judicial and legislative activity, we shall never forget what God told Abraham in Genesis 12, in that He was going to make a nation out of Abraham and “whomever blesses I will bless and whomever curses I will curse”. Based on that, if we ever have legislation that passes in opposition to Israel, then God will, in turn, oppose our nation. We should continue to monitor what our elected officials are doing in office, and, the stance of candidates during election cycles.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 4 – God Removed From Culture

Too many people are NOT standing on Gods Word, they are being swayed by culture and they are unfortunately adapting to cultural issues that are contrary to God’s Word. We have denominational divides that look eerily similar to those we see in political parties. It is a fascinating thing to review if you care to look at political parties and our denominational churches. It is glaringly obvious that man has infiltrated his ways into God’s Church.

However, we can see by Paul’s example, that he did not isolate himself from culture, but he also did not immerse himself in it, he strived to influence and impact culture. Review the story in Acts about Mars Hill.

Everywhere he went, he was engaged. Sometimes it resulted in revolt, but other times it resulted in revival. Not because he was hiding his light, he was open and he was bold. Sometimes, they chased him out of town with clubs. Should we, as a body, be afraid of that ourselves? Should we be afraid of people telling us that “we are narrow minded”? No. We need to retain focus, in the back of our minds, that we follow a crucified Christ.

Jesus tells us in Matthew that the gate is narrow, that it will be hard.  So we have to accept the idea that we may live in a culture that is not going to praise us. But God looks at us and He is pleased.

Robert Charles Sproul (a theological leader of the Presbyterian church (d. 2017)) said that “There are lots of people that say that the church or Christians should never say anything about what the government does, but that ignores the whole history of redemption all the way up to John the Baptist where the church has always been given the responsibility of prophetic criticism. Not that we want the state to be the church, but we do want the state to be the state. And when the state rebels against its God ordained responsibility, the church not only may, but it must, speak out against it.” 

Christ commanded us to take the Gospels to the nations. When we, as Americans think of this, we generally think of other nations but never our own. The USA is also one of the nations. Shall we not also work on our own backyard? It starts with the people, where the Church is primarily focused, in the hopes that the people will thrive and drive the culture of their nation.

Are there areas of our own nation that we are missing because we think someone else is working on that problem? If the church cannot or does not speak to community, state and national issues, then we are missing a big piece of the Gospel. 

We have forces on our government that want to make the people completely reliant on them, they say that we, the people, can depend on them; that they have our best interests in mind and will provide all our needs. I heard a pastor, Tony Evans, describe the children’s fable about Humpty Dumpty in a way that I had never heard before, and it is brilliantly fitting and ironic:

“When Humpty Dumpy fell off the wall, even all of the Kings Men and all the Kings horses could not put Humpy Dumpty together again.  The government could not help Humpty Dumpty in his most dire time of need. This is not a partisan statement, this is statement about government in general. We should never depend on our government. We must learn how to fish the way our Father intended and manage our own lives [the way our Founding Fathers intended]. Too many believe that our government will put our country back together again, as if we are expecting all of the answers to come from our elected officials. It is unfortunate today that far too many believers, are expecting the solutions to our problems to land on Air Force one.”

“2 Chron 15:3-6 reminds us that there was a time where the land was without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law. Therefore, the result was that there was no peace, nation rose against nation, city against city, and there was no peace for him who came in nor him who went out. God had troubled them with every kind of distress.  What this tells us is that if God is the problem, then only God is your solution. God becomes our problem when we remove Him from the equation.”


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 3 – God’s Word vs. Political Parties

The solution to how Christians might behave can actually be found in Jeremiah Chapter 29, versus 1-13. But first, we need to recognize that our hope is not, and can not, be built into any political party nor in any person, our hope is in the Father. We can look at the officials representative of the leading parties and then look to the Father to help us identify the officials that best represent the true biblical values we find in Scripture. The Biblical values and principles we should be concerned with will not impede, stop, or harass our ability to follow the prime commandments left to us by Jesus Christ. True Kingdom-like principles. But, until the Kingdom of Heaven comes to earth, we are here. We are here, and until then we, as Christians, have dual citizenship. What is the responsibility of the Christian community to the political environment? What about our responsibilities to the nation that we live in? How are we to act and behave in political seasons or the current cultural dilemma’s we now face? Uninformed, informed, sit it out, do anything, do nothing. And, if appropriate, at what level do we do something at?

  1. We should be responsible – Jeremiah 29:1-6, be responsible in your culture, be involved (this letter was sent to the exiles in Babylon, encouraging them because they were in a world that did not understand nor support their belief system, they did not sympathize with their values, and were even hostile to their values; similar to what Christians are living in today in Western Culture). We need Christians who are responsible in their culture.
  2. We should be prayerful – Jeremiah 29:7, be prayerful for your country. Your welfare is bound up in the welfare of your country. If you want God involved, then pray for your leaders, pray for your nation. Refusing to pray for our President, or condemning pastors that pray over him is, dare I say, not biblical.
  3. We should be careful – Jeremiah 29:8-9, be careful who you consider; the people in Babylon were becoming complacent in allowing things to run their natural course rather than operating in careful consideration
  4. And, we should be hopeful – Jeremiah 29:10-13, be hopeful in your calling. The Lord tells us that if we seek Him with all our heart, He listens and we will find Him, He will give us a future and a hope.

No matter what is happening today and no matter what happens in 2020, we have a future and a hope in God. You can always do more than pray after you’ve prayed, but you can never do more until you pray. This is where we start and the foundation of all of our activities.

Abraham Lincoln said that “those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”  Ronald Reagan said “that without God, democracy will not and can not endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation Under God then we will become one nation gone under.”

Some people, believers or not, would agree that our country is dividing more and more to a point where we wonder if it is even recoverable – another civil war is looming across the horizon. Some believe that there is no leader that can polarize our nation enough to bring us back together, or at least narrow the divide. However, we have a great God that is looking to the church to stand up, to look to Him, and bring in the LIGHT.

There are those that believe, with the right leader, the right person, we can bring our nation back together. America can be redeemed, but the difference is in our belief that we need God’s help. When Christians refuse to take a clear stand on specific issues, the church/the body of Christ is weakened.

How do we deal with all of this? We start in God’s Word first. Even as culture changes, God’s Word does not. Our foundation, when engaging in our culture, is to stick to the foundational truths of Scripture. Even if our culture changes, we still stand on TRUTH. We still stand on God’s Word.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 2 – Jesus, Democrat, and Republican

If Jesus were walking the earth today, I think many would agree that He would not be a member of a political party – He would be independent. Yet, these same people remain along the party line anyway. The Old and New Testament tribes have morphed into Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Communist, Green Party and Tea Party amongst others. In the church, they have morphed into Presbyterian, Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Charismatic, Methodist, Episcopalian, and on and on. Back to the topic of politics, we would all agree that Democrats and Republicans own the political stage. This is good and bad.

The problem is that Democrats and Republicans are tailored made to resist one another (which is good and bad), they will never get along and will rarely agree (again, good and bad). There is nothing you can do to put Democrats and Republicans on the same page. If you consider yourself a Democrat, then I would encourage you to think “Democrat-lite”; likewise, if you consider yourself a republican, then I would encourage you to think “republican-lite”. But we also have a third element, another team of officials that I would encourage you to be a part of.

These officials are in the game, but they are not of the game. They are in the middle of the chaos but they do not belong to the chaos. It is not the job of these officials to listen to the roar of the crowd, be it boos or cheers, nor to the factions that are against each other. These officials belong to another Kingdom and they make their decisions reflective of the book handed to them from the Kingdom that they represent.

Because, it is our job, as Soldiers of Christ, to bring in the L-I-G-H-T, representing a different King in another Kingdom. So let’s represent the King.

Christians should serve as “a” moral compass for the nation, something that is sometimes hard to do if Christians allow themselves to become the property of one political party or subservient to one set of special interests. Like the court prophets of Ahab (1 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 18), we lose our credibility and doom our listeners if we begin to parrot anyone’s party line rather than the ethical and moral principles we have gleaned from Scripture. Christian citizens serve their nation best when they can both love what is best about our nation and also insist on the freedom to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable when necessary.

The bible tells us in Romans 13 that God ordained human government. That chapter also tells us that we are subject to that government we are in. It seems odd to think that God would ordain government and then want Christians to stay out of it, it doesn’t make sense. In American culture, we don’t live in a totalitarian regime, we live in a culture that is constructed to involve ALL of its citizens.

In a pluralistic culture, the freedom to believe and disbelieve is made there; but what is happening is our nation is forming a monopoly, one that is starting to refuse to give you the freedom to express your belief. This is where we need to change and this change is not going to happen if Christians are not engaged, or not involved, in influencing our culture.

It is possible to be political and not truly spiritual, but, it is not possible to be genuinely spiritual and not touch politics. Example: life and death issues and abortion are moral issues but they are now ingrained in the political arena. Politics, to some degree, intercepts with every single person. Politics is the art of living together in a community. The current political climate is working diligently to politicize and appropriate your spirituality and spiritual beliefs. 

Plato said, that “the penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics, is to be governed by those worse than themselves”.


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God ~IN~ Country: Part 1 – Christians Duped Into Silence

Religion and Politics – how does just the mention of these topics make you feel? Are you uncomfortable? If so, why? Are you of the belief that we should not talk about these topics? If so, why?  Perhaps you are ok with talking about these with a limited trusted circle, but you would not talk about them with anyone else. What if you were invited to discuss one or both of them? 

As a Christian, do you believe that Christians have no place in politics? Do you believe that Christians should stay away from political or cultural debate? 

If the thought of discussing one of these topics during dinner or during a social engagement makes you feel anxious, fearful, angry, hateful, or stressed out, then I would recommend that you check the condition of your heart. With Jesus Christ inside of us, with the Holy Spirit as our guide, why should we fear, hate, or abstain from these discussions? 

Throughout the last few decades, I believe we have been slowly allowing ourselves to be taught two basic untruths about both the founding of our nation (government and politics), and, whether or not Christians should be involved in civil and cultural engagement (religion).  The premise of this debate is masked behind a community teaching that it is taboo to have discussions on two heartfelt, yet basic topics: religion and politics. Perhaps you stay away from these topics because you cannot handle or manage what you perceive will become confrontational.

We have been told not to bring up politics and almost more specifically, don’t bring up religion. Why? Because we have been taught that it divides people.  At a minimum, throughout my lifetime, we did stay away from them; however, the end result is that we are still divided on these topics and we are still sensitive to them, even though we followed the “society rule” of not talking about them. The way I see it, our nation is divided more than ever; therefore, the taboo, hands off approach to these topics, are, in reality, no longer relevant. There are active movements working, at large, to rewrite our history and, more importantly, to harden the line through legislation and the court systems to dictate what people of faith can teach, discuss, or share beyond the walls of the church building or the walls of your home.

It is my opinion that we can only unite if we open these channels back up and discuss them. I don’t think it is any longer about division, it is now about control of the narrative. Not only controlling anger, acrimony, and stress; but perhaps an intent to control behavior, beliefs, and resonance about what is happening to our Western Culture. But, admittedly, passions run very deep, even amongst evangelicals.

While I know this will cause some controversy amongst some denominational lines, I believe it is NOT biblically sound for Christians to be disengaged from societal and cultural discourse. In fact, I believe it to be irresponsible for Christians to not engage. I am going to share why I believe this while I will also sharing where the Judeo Christian God is, in fact, deeply ingrained into our founding document – The Declaration of Independence.

The result will be a blending of these two taboo topics: a blend of Christianity and Western Culture).

Let me be transparent and very specific that I believe that Christians have been duped into silence. Some will say that they know this, yet, they continue to remain silent anyway. Debate between faith, culture and social values “is vital for the healthy growth of a pluralist society.”

pluralistic society is one where people believe in all kinds of different things and tolerate each other’s beliefs even when they don’t match their own. Tolerate being the key word.

Sometimes, biblical Christianity requires a little backbone, not only to stand up for your beliefs, but also to talk about and accept the idea that there will always be opposing views of the Christian faith. If the clergy back in the Revolutionary War period stood by what Christians hold to today or what our modern secular society tells you that you are allowed and not allowed to do or say, we would absolutely not have a country today – we would likely still be beholden to a monarchy, or something worse. I believe that the birth of our nation dramatically changed the world, and this due to the fingerprint of God. In fact, this is almost specific to what the Revolutionary War clergy stood up for – and this can be found in the Declaration itself.

But things have changed, and not in a good way. Some argue that the negative change began in 1963, while others place the blame squarely on the shoulders of President Trump. The timing does not matter and, this is most definitely not the fault of President Trump; but I do believe that his election has shined a light into the world that many refer to as the “Deep State”. I posit that the negative changes in culture are due, predominantly, because of the church. The church has abdicated and walked away. Additionally, many Christians have not taken their responsibilities of serving as “the governed” seriously, but this is also attributed to the church. 

We have allowed our personal political bias’s to take front stage before biblical principals. Over many decades going back, I would say, a century or so, we have slowly allowed the rule of man to overrule and take over the political parties where Jesus and Lord are no longer the driving purpose. The result is that we have Christians that legislate, think, behave, and vote strictly along party lines.  Political parties are man made entities, a means of grouping people into like and similar philosophies.  Scripture teaches us that we are not supposed to be of the world, so then why do Christians follow the party line instead of the line sketched out by Jesus Christ.


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Rage Against the Social Media Machine

     This will be the first part of a series on “Christians and Technology”.   Titled “Rage Against the Social Media Machine”, today I wish to share what the Lord has been dealing with me regarding a Christian Life through Social Media. We are talking about all platforms, known and unknown. For transparency, I personally only have experience with Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Paler.  
     Over the last 3 years, the Lord has been dealing with me regarding how we, as a nation, use Social Media to propagate our “opinions” and “beliefs” in the hopes of spreading our opinions and beliefs to others. This can be good, if used correctly, but also bad for those bent on evil and misdirection. For self-professed Christians, we ought to take our use of Social Media very seriously. In the past, I have been very guilty and complicit in not using the platforms correctly; in this regard, I have repented and moved on.  Top Dog Social Media has identified 10 categories of social media users. See if you can identify which one of these you think you are. You may be a mix of two or three.  
  1. The listener – those that fly under the radar and only access media to be nosy and see what others are posting and doing
  2. The Activist – They realize the power of social media and strive to have their voice heard to make a difference.
  3. The Spammer (oh boy!) – this is the type of person that tells themselves their cheesy posts count as “quality content” 
  4. The Passionista – bonded by passion, this type of social media user focuses their time on exploring and sharing their passion with others online.
  5. The Social Butterfly – This breed of social media user never seems to stop showing you how small the world is by getting tagged in pictures with what appears to be every person you’ve ever met. If you want to know how popular they are, just check their social channels!
  6. The Trolls – manages to cross that line from unpleasant opposition to downright hate speech, no matter how sensitive or irrelevant the issue. 
  7. The Influencers – Influencers are those that are producing high-quality content and sharing their knowledge with their social media community. They are passionate about their topic and love to help educate others. They understand entirely the concept of “quality content” and live and breathe it every day.
  8. The Early Adopter – They were on Facebook or LinkedIn before it was mainstream and love to remind you about it. This unique user has also likely moved on to all the new, shiny social platforms that you might hear about months from now.
  9. The Black Booker – A real relationship builder, this person looks at social media in the most practical way possible: a means to communicate with other people.
  10. The Family Person – These users tend to avoid technology but fell in love with social media the moment they realized they could keep in touch with their family members from every corner of the world as if they were right across the street.

     Unfortunately, social media has been used and abused to intentionally spread false information, or at best, information intended as humor or satire is understood to be truth by the receiver.  Adding to the dilemma, self-professed Christians are also guilty of spreading things across social media platforms that they either know to be wrong, or, they fail to research what they are spreading thereby expanding the false narrative.  As Christians, I believe we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and a higher calling to only share what we know to be true, or, at least identify that the issue you share is of your opinion.  If it is satire or humor, we may want to ensure that it is clearly understood. In comparison, we have bottles marked as POISON that come with warning labels telling us “DO NOT DRINK”. Captain Obvious does not always apply.

     In the Corporate and Business world, there is a concept known as “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR).  CSR is a program where a business voluntarily develops a policy about how they will contribute to the overall good of their communities and/or society as a whole, generally using profits to pay for these programs. CSR can range from environmental sustainment programs to philanthropy initiatives taking care of people that cannot take care of themselves (Example: Hospitals and shelters).  While some business’s do this from their hearts, most organizations today do this as a marketing opportunity, “Look what we did”.  CSR, while honorable a few decades ago, has devolved into masking selfishness and pride with virtue and love. They mask their true intentions with feel good statements and a wink and a nod.  In comparison, some people will intentionally spread information across social media platforms with the full intention to influence people while also knowing that they cannot backup the information they have shared; they themselves do not know if the information is true, but they want it to be. The truth is that just because you want it to be true does not make it true.

     Why is this important?  Because too many American’s are getting their “news” from social media platforms. “Online news websites are more popular among those ages 30 to 49. About four-in-ten (42%) in this age group get news often from websites and news apps. About a quarter (27%) of 18- to 29-year-olds get news from news websites, making it the second most commonly used platform for news for that age group. For these youngest adults, social media is the most popular news platform – 36% get news there often, topping news websites, TV (16%), radio (13%) and print (2%).”  Imagine the level and degree of influence that social media has on our younger generation. As Christians, we should consider this as we share and spread items considered “newsworthy” across whatever your platform of choice.

     I myself am extremely guilty of having participated in sensationalism, but I experienced a heavy conviction in my heart about 3 years ago. Recently, I have observed an increase in hostile and ugly arguments, serving absolutely no purpose but to divide us even further. Some try to use social media as a debate tool when it is literally impossible to do so – you cannot use social media to debate something into someone’s heart. As Christians, we absolutely cannot forget that our primary objective is LOVE.  In my “opinion”, we should feel free to use social media to share the truth BUT we also need to believe it, and know it, to be true ourselves.  It is frustrating and disheartening to continuously see social media posts that persist in old stories that no longer matter (such as Obama’s birth certificate). Too many times, these same stories were false last year, they did not magically become true today. We should also consider that the spread of false information is also contributing to significant increases in depression and anxiety.

     As Christians, if we pass a false story (whether knowingly or not), this not only impacts your own integrity, but can also impact the Christian community. I believe it is ok to share your opinion about a topic, but, you ought to indicate that it is your opinion if not obviously so.  Think about your heart and the impacts to others. Is your message coming from your heart, or, are you so outraged by an issue that your human bias is blocking what your spirit is telling you?

     Here are some Christian guidelines as proposed by Truthful Words:

  1. Don’t Be Rude—Show Respect For Others: One way that you can be distinctively different from the world while using social media is to think of others more highly than yourself (Phil:2:3-4)… When God’s people make the conscious effort to stop putting “me” first, they are less apt to be rude and more able to think of others’ needs and feelings above their own.
  2. Don’t Be Excessive: Remember the Fruit of the Spirit and exercise temperance (self-control) (Gal. 5:22-24)! Don’t forget to let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). 
  3. Don’t Be Possessive Or Too Dependent: Remember these Biblical admonitions: Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:4). Ye shall make you no idols (Lev. 26:1). Consider taking certain days to fast from your devices or media, replacing that time with a renewed focus on improving your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that you do not allow social media to run your life.
  4. Don’t Be Secretive: Applying scriptural principles to your use of social media is a great way to guard yourself from being in bondage to them. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? (Gal. 4:9).

     “Incorporating “yourself” into your social network or blog in a God-glorifying manner for example could be posting that you had specifically prayed for something and the Lord answered. Instead of talking about your achievements, talk about your latest ministry or witnessing adventure, mission trip, or family day. Share about the blessings and the challenges that the Lord gave you through those activities. Talk about the people you spend time with and the character qualities that you like in them. Use media options to glorify the Lord by having a true meaning to your posts. Ask the Lord to give you a redeeming purpose for your blog, Facebook, and YouTube posts, or personal websites. It is important to once again stress that we as Christians need to be distinctively (yes, even radically) different in the way that we use whatever the world promotes or the culture deems acceptable. The strength of the choice is in your hands. By God’s grace, you do not have to allow anything to have power over you (2 Cor. 12:9-10).”

 

References:

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/social-media-outpaces-print-newspapers-in-the-u-s-as-a-news-source/, accessed 29 June 2019

Rosenberg, Matthew J. (1 April 2002). “Review of Misguided Virtue: False Notions of Corporate Social Responsibility”International Affairs.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#2923aa4b2e5a, accessed 29 June 2019

https://topdogsocialmedia.com/10-types-of-social-media-users/, accessed 29 June 2019

https://www.truthfulwords.org/articles/media.html, accessed 29 June 2019

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/04/08/rage-against-the-social-media-machine-how-did-it-get-to-this/, accessed 29 June 2019

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_social_media_driving_political_polarization, accessed 29 June 2019


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The US Constitution is NOT a Living Document.

     I pray for the day when we finally put to rest the argument that the US Constitution as a living document. The Constitution provides both our foundational principles and our national doctrine, which make our country both great and different than all other nations. The Constitution is the longest surviving document of its kind in history and the reasons for it are found within the document itself. Our Founding Fathers may not have known how technology would evolve, or, that we would experience a Civil War, but they did know that the Constitution would need to adapt to changes in culture. What they provided was a process that would allow our Constitution to adjust to changing conditions – the amendment process.

     An argument made is that the amendment process is difficult and cumbersome, which is a good thing as we would not want an easy process. However, since the process is difficult, we have opted to rely on the court system to “interpret” the constitution. “What did the original writers mean?”  The problem is that interpretation is too open to one’s philosophy, one’s biases, and one’s belief system. A constructionist interprets the Constitution as it is written, not as he wished it had been written. Those who believe in a “living constitution” believe that the opinion of the Supreme Court is more important than what the Constitution actually says.

     The living document philosophy is flawed, allowing personal biases and interests to weave into our constitutional system, thereby, allowing a tendency to drift towards justifying oppression on others. The courts have a history of making decisions that violate the will of the people, which is in stark contrast to “We the people”. “…the will of the majority shall prevail.” (Washington). “The will of the majority [is] the natural law of every society….” (Jefferson).

     We need to rely on the Constitution in a changing world but we must also protect the foundational principles and national doctrines contained within. Therefore, we must accept the established amendment process as well as pushing our legislators to pass laws as the founding fathers intended. The Constitution works perfectly when the interpreter is fixed on our Creator – the same one that is mentioned in our Declaration of Independence that endowed us with certain unalienable Rights. His Word is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Word of God is living, but it will also never change.


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Gerrymandering Congressional Districts

     In a decision about gerrymandering (redrawing district maps that favor specific political parties), the court ruled today that this issue does not belong in the federal court system. They consider it a local political problem and the court does not belong in politics (haha).

     Make no mistake that this can be a problem for us and our congressional districts if it is not resolved. But, our country is very fluid, so while one party may gain favor in a particular district, they can eventually lose that favor.

     The dissent for the four liberals, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “For the first time ever, this court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.” I am not sure that this is the first time the court refused to make a decision, that statement is somewhat inaccurate.

     Kagan stated “judicial capabilities”; however, just because the court might be capable, it does not mean that they should. We litigate way too much at the Supreme Court when, in reality, most of these issues should be resolved at the legislative level. Similarly, just because a law says that you “can” do something does not mean that you should. But that is for another day.

     The Judicial Branch of the United States is covered under Article III (Sections 1-2) of the constitution. It is the shortest outline of the three branches in the Constitution. Some argue that this was intentional as formulated by the Founding Fathers. [The Legislative Branch, i.e. Congress, has the largest description but the way.)

     It is possible that the court had jurisdiction to make this case per Article IV, Section 4; but that is a loose possibility. The electoral process actually falls to the Secretaries of State for the preponderance of our 50 states, so it is most probable that issues with gerrymandering belong, at best, in individual State Supreme Courts.


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The US Census Debate

     On Thursday, 27 June, the US Supreme Court will release its decision on whether the US Census for 2020 can include a question about whether you are a US Citizen or not. Many opinions abound regarding whether this question is legal, or, even whether it is moral. There are two perspectives in which we can consider the basis of a question regarding citizenry: the bible and the US Constitution. On March 26, 2018 the U.S. Dept of Commerce announced plans to re-include a citizenship question in the 2020 census questionnaire which has not been included on the short form since 1950. All indicators at this stage indicate that the census question will be approved.

     Proponents of including the question claimed it is necessary to gather an accurate statistical count, while opponents claimed it might suppress responses to the Decennial Census and therefore lead to an inaccurate count. Multiple states have sued the Trump administration arguing that the proposed citizenship question is unconstitutional and may intimidate illegal aliens and undocumented workers, resulting in inaccurate data on immigrant communities.

The Constitution:

  1. Citizenship is defined in the first clause of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment as: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.
  2. The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective Numbers.
  3. Title 13 of the United States Code governs how the Census is conducted and how its data is handled.
 

     In both the Old and New Testaments, the bible references a census as generally done for the purpose of taxation or military recruitment.

Old Testament:

     In addition to two military censuses in Numbers, a special numbering of the Levites was also performed. Rather than carry out military duties, these men were priests who served in the tabernacle. In Numbers 3:15 they were instructed to list every male who was 1 month old or older. The tally came to 22,000. In Numbers 4:46–48 Moses and Aaron listed all of the men between the ages of 30 and 50 who were eligible for service in the Tabernacle and transporting it, with the number counted being 8,580.

     In 2 Samuel 24:1-2, near the end of his reign, King David commissioned his leaders to conduct a census of the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba. David’s commander, Joab, was reluctant to fulfill the king’s command knowing the census violated God’s command. While it’s not explicit in Scripture, David’s motivation for the census seemed to be rooted in pride and self-reliance.

     In 2 Chronicles 2:17-18, Solomon took a census of the foreigners in the land for the purpose of distributing laborers. He counted 153,600 and assigned 70,000 of them as common laborers, 80,000 as quarry workers in the hill country, and 3,600 as foremen. 

     Finally, during the time of Nehemiah, after the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem, a complete census of the people was recorded in Ezra 2.

New Testament:

     Two Roman censuses are found in the New Testament. The most well-known, of course, took place at the time of Jesus Christ’s birth, reported in Luke 2:1–5.

     “At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.” (NLT).  The final census mentioned in the Bible was also recorded by Luke. In Acts 5:37, a census was conducted and Judas of Galilee had gathered a following but was killed and his followers scattered.

     According to the bible, people went back to their home towns and tribes to complete the census. 2 Chronicles 2:17-18 indicates that Solomon took a census of foreigners (immigrants) to help with distribution of labor. However, nothing is specified about “legal” status.

     According to the constitution, the purpose of the Census is to determine proper apportionment of US Representative Representation and tax distribution. The liberal agenda is opposed to this question but they do support the rights of illegal immigrants to vote, citing that they do pay taxes (primarily in the form of sales taxes). The conservative agenda is in support of the question being asked, but they also want tighter controls on immigration and do not believe that illegal immigrants hold to the same level of rights as those afforded to legal immigrants and citizens.

     There is nothing for you to do regarding the debate around the census but it should warrant your awareness. Whatever your “opinion” may be regarding this citizenship question, this decision will have an impact on your citizenry and governance philosophy. Ironically, another question that may be added to the census, but is not garnishing attention, is the “sexual status” of the census taker (gay, lesbian, transgender, etcetera). The sexual status question is supported by the LGBT community but it has not yet been decided if this question will be asked or not.

References:

“Decennial Census – History – U.S. Census Bureau”. Census.gov. Accessed June 24, 2019

“‘Queering the census’ movement aims to get single gays counted”. NY Daily News. Accessed June 24, 2019

“FACT CHECK: Has Citizenship Been A Standard Census Question?”npr.org. Accessed June 24, 2019

Weiser, Wendy (March 27, 2018). “Why the census asking about citizenship is such a problem”Huff Post. Accessed June 24, 2019

Gomez, Alan (March 27, 2018). “California sues Trump administration over Census citizenship question”USA Today. Accessed June 24, 2019

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+3%3A15&version=KJV

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+4%3A46-48&version=NASB

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+24%3A1-2&version=NASB

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+2%3A17-18&version=NASB

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra+2&version=NLT

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+5%3A37&version=NLT

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/8/house-votes-favor-illegal-immigrant-voting/, accessed June 24, 2019

https://www.learnreligions.com/meaning-of-census-700736, accessed June 24, 2019


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The Story of Rehoboam

     One upon a time, in an ancient land, there was a king named Rehoboam. King Rehoboam had inherited the kingdom from his father, who was considered the wisest man in all the world. During the reign of his father, the land thrived, kings (and a queen) from all over the world would visit Rehoboams father to partake of his wisdom to see if he would impart something significant to them for their own kingdoms. Rehoboams father, and his father before him, was a devout follower of “the way”. 

     Now, the father of Rehoboam did make some mistakes and strayed from “the way” and it had been prophesied that the land might eventually suffer as a result of his infractions, but the land was still awesome at the time Rehoboam took the throne. One day, Rehoboam was confronted by a people asking that Rehoboam honor them just as his father had done, and, if he could find it in his heart, they asked Rehoboam if he would even offer them a little more freedom. Rehoboam, wanting to be wise, consulted with the same elders that had provided guidance to his father before him. These elders recommended that Rehoboam loosen the reigns a little more as these people were an honorable people. But, Rehoboam did not like that guidance, so he decided to ask his buddies, those that he had grown up with.

     Rehoboams friends told him that he should tighten the reigns and restrict the people even more, for they were focused on ways of old. There was no sound reasoning to this guidance other than they felt Rehoboam might appear weak if he allowed these people to live free, plus, the ways of his father were considered antiquated and not of the times. So, rather than listening to the counsel of the elders that had helped his nation thrive and grow, he listened to his young friends and told the people to get stuffed. Not only would he not give them more freedom, he restricted their activities even more and punished them further. 

     After turning away from the request and will of his people, they fought him and even killed one of Rehoboams servants. A rebellion was kicked off which lasted for hundreds of years. The people of the land grew angry and despised Rehoboam for the remainder of his reign. King Rehoboam had successfully divided his nation in only one generation. 

     At the time of Rehoboam, his generation had decided that they wanted to pursue their own activities, their own agenda. They wanted to establish their own moral code and, if necessary, they would push their code on to the people of the land. They had become naïve and weak due to the prosperity that their nation had achieved over the previous 80 years. It was their forefathers that had grown and conquered the land, it was their purpose to maintain it; however, they decided that the way to do it was to force a new belief system through violence and choice of words. A once successful and thriving nation, following established ways, had been torn apart. 

     A thousand years later, a new prophet would walk the land – the true story continues. The people of the nation had become negligent and, achieved such a level of weakness, they had been conquered and overrun by many different foreign nations and were currently occupied. This new prophet was advising the people that the world was renewed, that there was light in the darkness. But this new movement was under attack, the people of the movement were being tormented and, rather than fight the battle, they would just convert to the ways of the foreigners so that they could live in peace. They did not really believe in the foreign ways, but it was just easier to comply.

     But the prophet continued to preach, that there was wisdom and revelation in “The Way!”. If they kept “the way”, their eyes would be enlightened to the right understanding, that there is hope. While it is easier to conduct ourselves in a way that our bodies desire, “the way” is alive in mercy and love, as long as we stick together in grace. That if they kept “the way”, that the people will thrive, but they needed to keep the faith, not just methods and activities.

     The prophet reminded the people that if they remember what their lives were like before “the way” and compared their lives to “the way”, they were happier and more successful. It wasn’t until the foreigners started to attack “the way” that the people were made miserable and fearful. He reminded them they “the way” is a new covenant and was bound in the blood of those that preceded them in death. For, the people are one, by Spirit, and connected to the source of “the way”. 

     For this very reason, the prophet bowed his knee’s to “the way” so that he would be strengthened through the Spirit in his own body and spirit. He argued that the people should continue to walk worthy of “the way”, bearing one another in love and endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace. They should feel renewed in the spirit of their mind and speak truth with each other and their neighbors. It is perfectly acceptable to be angry, but do not allow this anger to fester or it would bring on bitterness. Only speak what is essential to the cause and necessary to maintain “the way”. 

     Let the bad people continue to do their thing, but feel free to speak out against the new thing, against the foreigners, for while it may seem dark, the people of “the way” will bring light to the darkness enveloping the world. However, beware of letting bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, put away all malice. Walk circumspectly but not as fools. Do not be unwise but understand the will of “the way”. We are not wrestling with people of flesh and blood but against rulers and authorities of evil. 

Concluding Analysis:

     Rehoboam allowed “the way” to be overcome with the progressive movement of personal agendas and power of his contemporaries, and his nation was divided as a result. A thousand years later, the people were beginning to wake up to the reality that they were happier and more successful when they followed “the way”, it was only when they were attacked for their beliefs that they would be tempted to stray and were miserable as a result. It is possible to be happy, even while being persecuted. It is ok to speak out in anger against this persecution, but, this anger must be dealt with before going to bed each night; hence, we should remain on guard against bitterness, wrath, and malice. All is done with love as the motivation, saying only what is necessary for edification. This is what it is like when we follow “the way”.


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The Equality Act (An Update)

The Equality Act passes the House of Representatives.

The equality act, officially known as H.R.5, passed the House on 17 May 2019and has been submitted to the Senate.  Eight republicans passed the bill while 100% of the democratic base voted for the act.

A link to an article about the possible impact on the Christian Faith can be found here, facilitated by the Liberty Counsel.

A link to the actual text of the act can be found here. If you have not read this bill, I would encourage you to read it for yourself (do not just take my word for it) so that you can get an understanding of the breadth of the impact that this will have on the Christian faith.
The spirit of the act will allow the government to dictate to you what you believe about biological sex and the covenant of marriage just for starters. Your faith and religious belief have no bearing.  The members of the progressive and liberal parties have stated that you will believe what they believe or you will be forced to believe it. If your religious beliefs are different then you will have to get in line with the new belief system or suffer severe federal penalties. When the act was in committee in the House, the minority republican members of the committee worked to include a clause in the Act that would allow the church (i.e., all churches, including Judaism and Islam) to maintain their standards of faith; this attempt was immediately shot down and crushed by the majority democrat members, telling the minority embers that this was the intent.
The act, as written and presented, is unprecedented in US History according to Dave Barton of Wallbuilders. As one of the dominant constitutional and governmental scholars, Dave Barton argued that this is the most intrusive and invasive act that he is aware of. This act is the greatest threat we’ve ever had to religious liberty and the free exercise thereof, ever, in American history.
If this act passes the Senate, churches will be required to hire members of the LGBTQ community, including leadership positions; statements of faith will not apply and will be null and void. 
  • If members of the LQBTQ community decide to become members of the church, they must be allowed to serve as ushers and greeters. 
  • Pastors and teachers will NOT be allowed to teach sermons or make reference to scripture that speaks negatively of the sin of homosexuality. The truth of the bible does not matter. Pastors and elders will not be allowed to discourage discussions in the sanctuary or anywhere on church grounds that are in full support of the LGBTQ lifestyle. What if an LGBTQ member wants to teach a class on the subject to the children of the church or host a lifegroup? Church staff will need to encourage this lifegroup just as they do all others.
  • Faith based adoption agencies will be shut down if they refuse to place children into homes of those that include same sex couples or cross dressers.
  • Faith based schools and colleges must hire LGBTQ members or be unaccredited or shut down entirely.
  • What about youth groups?

This act also serves as a potential attack on women:

  • Men must be allowed into woman’s sports teams if they decide that they feel like a woman.
  • Men will be allowed into every woman’s restroom – this will no longer be a state by state issue
  • Men will be allowed to occupy homes that currently provide a service to sexually abused women.

The bill in front of the Senate is categorized as S.788 and is currently sitting in front of the Judicial Committee of the Senate.  Read the bill for yourself, it will blow you away. Also, please be aware that 47 members of the Senate are already on bored for the Senate bill, we are precariously close to watching the free liberty of religion be destroyed. 

So, if this is something that concerns you, what can you do?

   1.    Go to https://lc.org/hr5and sign the petition sponsored by the liberty counsel. You can probably find similar positions on other websites such as the Heritage Foundation or Family Research Counsel.

  1. Go to the following website for the US Senate and find your applicable Senators (remember that you have two). https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm
    1. Go to your Senators contact page and send them an email letting them know your views about this act

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and edited by his fellow delegates, contains a theory of rights that depends on a Supreme Being, not man, for its validity. The Declaration states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is possible to see in these words an affirmation of the Founders’ religious faith. Arguing for our religious rights DOES NOT mean that we hate or despise members of the LGBTQ community. We love all, even if the bill should pass the Senate. Nonetheless, this bill is terrifying in that it will force people to violate their religious convictions and discriminates against people of faith. If we go back over 200 years, government persecution of religious freedom was one of the pillars that forced the United States to separate from Great Britain.

In stating that people’s rights were given to them by their creator, the Continental Congress endowed those rights with a legitimacy that knows no parallel in mortal sources (i.e., written by man). What God has given to man cannot be suffered by any monarch or government (this is in the Declaration). Liberty is the inviolable birthright of all.  If a man wants to marry a man or a woman a woman, they can do so. I believe that most members of the LGBTQ will leave churches alone, as well as faith based small businesses; but, there will be enough that will force the issue on others for media attention and lawsuit purposes.

The Declaration contains several other references to a higher power. The introduction states that the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” entitle the American people to a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the conclusion, Congress appeals to “the Supreme Judge of the world” for the rectitude of its intentions and professes its “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” In each case, reference to a deity serves to validate the assertion of independence.

Bottom line is that our nation was founded based on the principle of God given rights above all others. This legislation will violate the provision of those God given rights. If you concur then I would encourage you to sign the petition in this email, as well as other petitions of you find them. Also, write to your Senator letting them know your position.


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The Attack, or Blessing, of “The Equality Act”

For those that believe in the Bible (which I pray we all do) – We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. If we truly believe in the bible, then we have no doubt that the bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises. 

If we believe in the Bible, then it goes without saying that we value God’s Word– “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24). The Bible is the most important authority in all areas of faith. Through our understanding and application of the scriptures, we can know God and His truth, experience changed lives, and grow in spiritual maturity. If the above is accurate for all concerned, then you may want to be aware of the “Equality Act of 2019”. The House of Representatives (pushed via the liberal agenda) is sponsoring a new bill referred to as the “Equality Act” (H.R.2282; S.1006).The purpose of the Equality Act is to provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, which include: 

  1. employment, 
  2. housing, 
  3. credit, 
  4. education, 
  5. public spaces and services, 
  6. federally funded programs, 
  7. jury service

The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law—including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several laws regarding employment with the federal government—to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. Bottom line is that this resolution is intended to protect LGBTQ from discrimination for employment, services from anyone, access to bathrooms of choice, and federal recognition of gender choice.

For those that are LGBTQ, this would be a blessing as many feel that they have been disenfranchised or hurt based on current policies and regulations.  For supporters of LGBTQ, this might make sense; but, our focus should NOT be on the leaven of Herod, but on the leaven of His Kingdom. As we know, the leaven of Herod involves an exalting of civil law above God’s moral law – putting man’s law above God’s law.  

Here are what the perceived impacts to Religious Liberties of those of faith as it applies to the First Amendment:

  1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology. Phillips (the cake baker in Colorado) is just one of many Americans who have lost income because of their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. Others cases involve floristsbakersphotographerswedding venue ownersvideographersweb designerscalligraphers, and public servants. These cases are just the beginning. The same policies used to silence disagreement over marriage can be used to silence disagreement over the biological reality of sex.
  2. It would compel speech. A VA county school board voted unanimously to fire a veteran teacher over the objections of his students after he refused to comply with administrators’ orders to use masculine pronouns in referring to a female student who identifies as transgender. Vlaming did his best to accommodate the student without violating his religious belief that God created human beings male and female, using the student’s new name and simply refraining from using pronouns altogether. Unfortunately, the school still considered this a violation of its anti-discrimination policy.
  3. It could shut down charities. In Philadelphia, just days after the city put out an urgent call for 300 additional families to foster children, the city halted child placements by Catholic Social Services because of the organization’s belief that every child deserves both a mother and a father. Most of these children still languish without foster parents. 
  4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.  Any disagreements to this? Some communities are now moving to completely remove sports from high schools and community recreation activities. 
  5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals. Medical professionals would be pressured to treat patients according to ideology rather than their best medical judgment. Christians Doctors will be in jeopardy. 
  6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children. This has already happened. In Ohio, a judge removed a biological girl from her parents’ custody after they declined to help her “transition” to male with testosterone supplements. Similar cases are proceeding through the courts with children as young as 6 years old.
  7. It would enable sexual assault. A complaint under investigation by federal education officials alleges that a boy who identifies as “gender fluid” at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia, sexually assaulted Pascha Thomas’ 5-year-old daughter in a girls’ restroom. The boy had access to the girls’ restroom because of Decatur City Schools’ transgender restroom policy. A federal sexual orientation and gender identity law would give male sexual predators who self-identify as females access to private facilities, increasing the likelihood of these tragic incidents. The school has refused to amend their policy.  

If you have a desired position on this matter, I would highly encourage you to reach out to your House of Representative person and inform them of your position.  You can find your representative at the following: https://www.house.gov. Let your representative know of your position. 

As liberals control the House, this will very likely make it to the Senate. If you oppose this action, you may also want to let your Senator know of your position on this. You can find your senator at: https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm


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The Bladensburg Peace Cross

The Bladensburg Cross is a WWI memorial located in Bladensburg, MD, a mere few miles from the Arlington National Cemetery. It was erected, on private land, between 1919 and 1925 using private donations. The project had been spearheaded by Gold Star mothers who lost their sons to battle and lists the names of 49 men from Prince George’s County who died during the war.

The cross was originally built on private lands, but, in 1961, via the law of Eminent Domain, the lands were turned over to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Since that time, the Commission has overseen maintenance of the memorial. The land has been heavily developed over the years, with a divided highway passing by it and the memorial on its median (see attached photo if you wish).

On 27 February 2019, this memorial cross was the subject of a court case that was heard in front of the United States Supreme Court. At issue were the merits of “The Establishment Clause”, that this cross is a violation of the separation of church and state (a Thomas Jefferson metaphor).

In 2014, after 90 years of this cross being on the same site, three area residents (THREE) and the American Humanist Association filed suit, saying in court papers the memorial sends a “callous message to non-Christians.” The filers won the lawsuit, which was immediately appealed to the Fourth Circuit of Appeals, who, in October 2017, agreed and ordered the memorial be torn down, moved or modified. One of the appeals court judges stated that “they should just cut off the arms of the cross, that would take care of the issue”.  They wrote that publicly funded maintenance of the cross was unconstitutional because it “excessively entangles the government in religion because the cross is the core symbol of Christianity and breaches the wall separating church and state.” We should be reminded that “the wall” is never mentioned in the constitution nor the 1st Amendment. Nevertheless, the court remanded the issue of what will happen to the cross to the district court.

On November 2, 2018, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, which was heard on February 27, 2019. “Look at the historical context here. History counts,” Justice Stephen Breyer said. “But no more. We are a different country now, and there are 50 more different religions.” “Does the cross really have a dual meaning?” Ruth Ginsburg asked. “It is the preeminent symbol of Christianity. People wear crosses to show their devotion to the Christian faith.” “It’s sectarian,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said of the Peace Cross, and also questioned whether its long history is enough to allow it to remain.

“I think the Constitution tilts toward liberty in its structure,” added Kavanaugh, suggesting this particular cross memorial should stay, but the antagonists in the lawsuit claim that the memorial does not pass the “Lemon Test” – which is the basis of their oral argument. But Gorsuch said that precedent has not been applied in recent years by the justices.   
What is the Lemon Test?  In 1971, the Supreme Court heard the case of Lemon v Kurtzman (403 US 602). In the case, the Court decided that a Rhode Island law that paid some of the salary of some parochial school teachers was unconstitutional. One of the outcomes of this case is the Lemon Test, which created three criteria for determining if an issue at law is within the boundaries allowed by “The Establishment Clause”.
  1. First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose;
  2. Second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion;
  3. Finally, the statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.

While it may be a few months before we hear of an official ruling, the justices of the supreme court will likely vote in favor of The Bladensburg Cross; however, they are also indicating that they will avoid a broad ruling that would provide clear markers for similar legal disputes in the future. They will, instead, continue to hear each case on a case-by-case basis.

So, what are the ramifications of this case as it relates to our religious and constitutional liberties?

  • Similar crosses are displayed on federal land to honor war dead at nearby Arlington National Cemetery. Those that support tearing down all Christian themed memorials are indicating that they will also go after the Arlington National Cemetery. This case can set a precedent that may allow them to win.
  • There are over a hundred memorials around the United States that are similar in scope to the Bladensburg Cross that are also at risk.
  • It is very likely that from this day forward, new war memorials with religious imagery will no longer be permissible in the United States – given the diversity of faiths, and the views of atheists or agnostics.

I am not sure how many of you care about this, or, perhaps you feel helpless to do anything about it so, while you may be interested, you are frustrated but yet remain silent. There are things that you can do, but with God’s grace and Spirit filled wisdom, I believe and have faith, that even we, the so-called little people, can effect positive outcomes. May the Lord’s blessings make it so.

He frustrates the devices of the crafty, So that their hands cannot carry out their plans – Job 5:12


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Collapse of American Culture?

Note: this post is taken and rewritten from an idea expressed by Lance Wallnau.

Regardless of your religious affiliation, or lack of one, this ought to catch the attention of all concerned; nevertheless, the issue expressed in the attached article is clearly another step towards the collapse of parental rights and American Culture in general.  This is a dangerous precedent being set here for all parents, current and future.

In Ohio, for now, children under the age of 18 are being removed from parents custody if the child desires a gender transition and the parents refuse.  The legal decision is being made via an alliance of liberal lawmakers (liberal lawyers and liberal judges) who are siding against the wishes of the family (whether due to religious beliefs or not). This type of action is not necessarily new but this new action has taken a dangerous twist. Courts are now ordering fathers and mothers to turn over their children to the power of judges who support the gender reassignment agenda. Children are being taken from parents by the state so the children can receive state-sponsored injections to change their sex. Families that refuse to support their child’s sex change can lose custody of their sons and daughters.

In this instance, Judge Sylvia Hendon removed the child from parents’ custody solely because the parents would not consent to giving their daughter gender-suppressing, gender-manipulating, hormone-manipulating drugs. Never before in American history has this happened that we know of. Judge Hendon’s ruling is even more extreme in that she charges legislators to draft criteria to help the courts decide whether and when minor children have a right to obtain sex change drugs without parents’ intervention. She implies that government officials and medical professionals, “who will profit” from this, care more about the child than the parents. While this isn’t just an issue of parental rights, it is clearly also a religious freedom issue!

Think about what is happening. This judicial invasion of family rights is a manifestation of wreckless overreach and ignorance at a moral, intellectual and constitutional level. First, it is an assault on personal liberty, religious liberty and the fundamental protection of citizens from the tyranny of government at levels not seen since the Founders rebelled against King George! This blatant assault on the beliefs of parents actually expands the power of activists over any rights of parents regardless of belief – even scientific rejection of the spurious and often contradictory research underlying the whole gender fluidity field. 

Secondly, and perhaps, more importantly, is the issue of the maturity of children in making this decision. The girl in this particular story is 17 but, if a child of 12 to15 years of age is capable of making such a fundamental and life-altering decision regarding their own gender and the medical procedures needed to make such decisions permanent, should they not also be judged mature enough to leave home, drive a car, get a job, drink, marry, get drafted, and own a gun?

And if not – why?

What if, large what if, the same activists who advance this agenda will say, “why should they not have these rights?” And the reason they would say so is that they would also get the right to vote. I think they can. We may soon have 16 year old children voting.

Ohio groups fight back after parents lose custody of daughter for refusing gender ‘transition’


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The Unborn

Unless you keep away from the news (I am aware that some do), you should be aware that an attack has been unleashed on the unborn, including a child that is still alive after birth (referred to as abortion survivor).  More recently, the democratic party shot down an opportunity to vote on a resolution(H.R.962) that would have protected babies born alive after a failed abortion attempt. One liberal congressional leader indicated that this was a conservative attack on woman’s choice, while another liberal congressional leader indicated that they did not like the criminality imposed on health care providers if they were found in violation of the law if passed. In either case, while three democrats wanted to vote on the resolution, the dominant liberal point of view is that it is acceptable to support infanticide. I could not find any conservatives lawmakers in Congress that did not want to vote on this resolution.

I have a confession – once upon a time, as a young man, I was a supporter of abortions in cases of incest and rape, and, I hate to say it, if the baby was determined to have deformities or other life impacting issues. My hard stance views were dominant during my pre-“born again” years but some partially remained after. After I was born again, I never defended my views nor did I ever consider anything God had to tell me about the issue, but, the good news is that my position has changed over the years; nonetheless, I regret to say that I was recently still “ok” with abortion in cases of rape and incest, that is, until recent actions by people in positions of power flashed the error of my ways right in front of my eyes (I became hyper-convicted about the topic).  As mentioned, up until these recent events, I had not thought much about what God had to say, it was simply an “opinion”; but, after witnessing the cruel and heartless comments made by many over the last 2 years or so, I no longer believe that abortion is ever acceptable.

We should make no mistake that if a person votes someone into office that is an abortion advocate, then that person is also responsible for the act of abortion. Perhaps it is possible that a politician is elected where the voter was not aware of the politicians views on abortion – they do now. I understand a woman’s right to choose when it comes to her health but I am not sure we can adequately define where a woman can make a choice to destroy/kill/mutilate a baby that is, at a minimum, healthy and viable (I use “healthy and viable” more for a point of view, I do not support abortion of any kind).  Those that support abortion rights will blur the conversation by using the term “fetus” which is a clinical term that allows them to separate the reality of the conversation from the procedure itself. For those that can actually say “abort the baby” and continue on as if nothing is wrong should really consider the status of their heart and soul.

Reference his NO vote on a similar bill from 2018 (H.R 4712), D-MA Seth Moulton stated “It always has been and always will be illegal to kill or harm newborn infants. Many federal and state laws already protect newborns, and any evidence of wrongdoing can and should be handled under current law.”  I can only presume that he did not see the decision that would be made in New York nor the heartless comments made  by the Governor of Virginia that would be forthcoming.  Since the passage in New York, eight (8) other states have passed laws that allow late term abortions. The states are Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Vermont, along with Washington, D.C.  I guess the silver lining is that polls continue to show that a strong majority of Americans oppose late-term abortions. According to a national poll conducted by Marist University, three in four Americans (75 percent) say abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy. This includes most Republicans (92 percent), Independents (78 percent) and a majority of Democrats (60 percent). It also includes more than six in 10 (61 percent) who identify as “pro-choice” on abortion.

Throughout Scripture, God affirms the value of every human life—from children in the womb to the elderly. In Jeremiah 1:5, the Lord said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…..”.  Pro-choice supporters that use the bible to support their cause claim this verse is an example of where it was only applicable to the prophet and does not apply to all babies. Of note, it is worth noting that the pro-choice movement ONLY uses OT scripture to support their biblical claims that the Lord approves of abortion. In contrast, there are also numerous scriptures from the OT that point out that life is sacred. In any case, abortion supporters are neglecting the New Covenant, where the two greatest commandments from Jesus are that we do everything in “love” (love the Lord and love your neighbor) (Matt 22:36-40). Can a doctor complete an abortion or can a woman allow the process to be completed “in love”?

We also find in Galatians 1:15 where it says that “But then God called me by his grace; and in love,he chose me from my birth to be his.” We also find in Ephesians 1:3-4 where it says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love”. These scriptures declare the Lord’s love for the baby in the womb, all are precious in His eyes.

Instead of referring to people as pro-choice, most pro-choice supporters instead refer to the opposition as “anti-choicers”. An article by the Pro-Choice community from 2017 attempts to highlight scriptures that support abortion as biblically legitimate and even supported by God.  As far as validating when a baby is “alive”, the pro-choice movement points to Genesis where the Lord breathed life into Adam (Gen 2:7).  Abortion supporters believe, based on this verse, that an unborn child, even one that is a few seconds from birth is not alive because it is not yet breathing. This verse, along with a dozen others, provide a high level overview of how the pro-choice movement attempts to use the bible to support abortion. However, the pro-choice community seems to remain clear of the New Testament. It may be argued that abortion supports are falling short of the Glory of God.  Are they?

In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are reminded that”Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Can anyone say that killing a baby in the womb is being done to the glory of God? Can anyone say that killing a baby in the womb is acceptable with the two great commandments of Jesus Christ “to love”?  Just because the law allows the abortion activity, does not mean that we should. People still have the choice. Todd White made the statement “those that support abortion do not know the Father”.

Nonetheless, we should never specifically rebuke the person(s) that support abortion, we hate the sin but not the sinner. We need to pray for person(s) and continue to speak out against the act of abortion without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. Love still dominates the Christian, even in the case of those that continue to vote for and support the escalation of abortion and taking a life.


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Theology and the Jesus Experience

Theology is a system of beliefs based on the study of God through a scholastic interpretation of the Bible. The Pharisees, who persecuted Jesus, were focused more on scholastic achievement rather than a relational experience with the Lord. For the most part, the Bible is a record of God’s actions and interactions with the world and man, some may say an entry level understanding for finite man to interact with an infinite God. The early Christians didn’t have the New Testament but they did have the fresh, vibrant experiences of those who walked, talked and lived with our Lord Jesus Christ (see Luke 13:13-35). 

The Lord does not say anywhere in His word that you are to test your experiences against your theology; He does not even say that you are to build a theology about Him. Too many people are seeking to approach Him with their minds first rather than with their hearts. What He intended was that you would live life as an ongoing experience with Him and that you would compare your experiences with Him with those in His Word to ensure that your experiences could be confirmed by others. When you go back to read Scripture after you have had a fresh and new experience with Him you find that His Word has also become new to you. It speaks to you on another level because you yourself are on another level. It is not that His Word changes, it is that you have changed and now see things which before were veiled to you. 

To build a theology before you have an experience of a certain thing is to live on a very shallow plan. He has called you to experience Him and then to compare your experience with a fresh daily study of His Word from your current vantage point in life. You only know that which you can see at this time. 

We should not build theologies with our minds that are unrelated to the experiences we are having in our hearts. His scriptures are stories of direct divine revelation and each story can be seen from many different vantage points. Your vantage point is based on where you are in your walk and relationship with Jesus. The vantage view gets better as you experience more of Him – that is one of His promises to you.


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Keep Going, Keep the Faith, Keep Pressing Forward

As we get ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I also look at it as a time to reflect on my own personal relationship with Him. As I meditate on this season, I am reminded about how much I continue to suck at being a Christian – and I am not alone. If you continue to read, you will understand. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

Since becoming a Christian, there are some of our faith that will remind me (either verbally or body language) that some of my favorite things are not considered a part of the “Christian circle” and I should destroy them, throw them away or otherwise get rid of them.  I am talking about such things as my music preferences (which includes rock and yep, even some heavy metal), I like beer, and I will read books and watch movies that are secular in nature, amongst other things. [I do like Christian music and I am constantly reading Spirit filled books as well – just FYI]. The thought is that these items will influence my heart and drive me away from Christ – or preclude my walk in some fashion. There are things of the heart and then there are things of the mind – look at the heart and you will see and find a person in love with Jesus. But I suppose there are some that will continue to think, no matter what, that I suck at being a Christian.

But, we then get into the true imperfections of my soul and those things that are valid areas of my personality and character that are a “work in progress”. I talk loud and I talk too much. Depending on who is around me, I will still toss out a little “soldier speak”. I am a large fan of fairness and I am a champion of justice, BUT, I am unfortunately talking about justice and fairness in the eyes of Marcus. I continue to allow the wrong people to push my buttons and I will lash out however it seems appropriate to me at the time. The good news is that this is nowhere near the level it was for me 10 years ago, or even 3 years ago, but it still happens nonetheless. Now this is an area where I continue to suck at being a Christian.  Ironically, after a day like this and an hour of self-criticism and repentance, I will get home and initially relax with a beer and a song or two from Iron Maiden or Metallica [while repenting]. However, I will eventually switch my music choice to worship, reminding me of my salvation and redemption in Christ. I will close out EVERY day, before going to bed, with scripture and a prayer discussion with my Father.  I am always thankful to Him for continuing to correct the flaws of my character, giving me a wonderful family, and taking care of all of my needs – His will for me and not my own. Sounds Christianeeze , right?  Romans 7 reminds us that the struggle is real. In Happy Joy, Romans 8 further reminds us that there is a solution to the struggle. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

And THEN, we get to the true meat of the Christian challenge – the nature of the WORLD itself. Continuing to behave as a true and faithful man of Christ is very difficult and challenging.  Losing my oldest son in February of 2011 was very close to the final straw for me, almost took me down. Yet, here I am, continuing to profess my love for Christ, sharing Him with anyone and everyone that will listen, and not concerning myself with what others might think of the position I hold near and dear to my heart. Why? Read Romans 8 again. Keep Going. Keep the Faith. Keep Pressing forward.

We watch our politicians struggle to come together across “The Great Divide” in order to make decisions in areas such as economics, immigration, security, and life choices. We watch as professed Christians condone abortion or tax us in the name of government services. We watch as our national citizenry continue to lose focus on identifying who we are supposed to be as people or who we are as a nation. We watch as Christians publicly condemn people for their life choices instead of remaining compassionate and operating in love for others regardless of their decisions. And we watch as over 2400 Christian denominations argue about their interpretations of Law versus Spirit and right versus wrong. We are taught that the bible is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow – yet some work to change and mold the bible to fit the choices we make as a society in the modern world. If the founding fathers of our great nation were using the same bible 250 years ago as a guide in forming our constitution, then how is it possible that our constitutional processes are wrong and need to change to validate “progress” according to the world today. In this regard, I must suck at being a Christian as my Spiritual beliefs don’t fit the mold of the progressive movement. Nonetheless, while I may not be progressive enough, I still love others no matter what their views and I Keep Going. I Keep the Faith. And I Keep Pressing forward. 

We watch as some argue that science is stronger than faith and then watch as the same group says science is wrong in declaring what gender we are at birth – but I suck at being a Christian because I hold an opposing view even while continuing to love those that declare it. We watch as more church leaders are caught in scandals or, even worse, identified as pedophiles. I suck at being a Christian because I am glad that these people are being caught. But I Keep Going. I Keep the Faith. I Keep Pressing Forward.

So why, as I suck at being a Christian, do I keep going, keep the faith, and keep pressing forward?

Because there are guys out there that are good, honest Christians. There are guys out there with tattoo’s, who occasionally use “soldier speak” and who like to drink beer.  These are people who exhibit behaviors that would typically get you kicked out of the God Club. Aren’t they living in sin?  Do they suck at being Christians like me?  This is not why I am a Christian, just FYI, that would be a stupid reason.

These same guys love me for who I am and they love people who are hurting and messy. These same guys, tough on the outside, share openly about how they hurt and are repeated failures. They love their wives unconditionally and always speak highly about them. It is the joy I see in their eyes even in the middle of their tears and pain. They absolutely do not pretend to have it all together nor do they claim to have all of the answers – it is ok to simply say “I don’t know”. They Keep Going, They Keep the Faith. They Keep Pressing Forward.

What they do know is contagious, it is infectious – if only you were to listen. They are big, bold, and beautiful and it is fascinating, if you will only pay attention.  They are like me in many ways, we don’t believe that it is simply about believing in Jesus and living a morally correct life to get to heaven. It is much more than that. A life in Christ is not following a simple set of rules to earn God’s favor. If that were true, there are more morally correct people out there who live much more moral lives than Christians. In fact, I would argue that it is very possible that there are more non-Christians helping more people than those sitting in Church on Sundays.

To the dude with tattoo’s, the dude that talks loud or way too much. To the dude that likes to occasionally listen to rock music or drink a beer when he gets home from work. To the dude that occasionally talks like a soldier. We all believe in the same thing – that the cross where Jesus died is a reminder that as good as we try to be, we still need someone to save us from ourselves because at the end of the day, we like to compare ourselves to scoundrels. If Christianity teaches anything, we learn what a train wreck we are and when we see people in this light, we are humbled beyond compare. We might suck at being a Christian but we are real, heart felt, Christ loving men that keep going, keep the faith, and keep pressing forward.

Some religions say: “This world is going to hell. It doesn’t matter. It’s not real, but a shadow, so we wait until we die and escape this. We wait until the next life.” However, Christ teaches that His goal regarding the resurrection is to transform the world. Christ teaches His goal is a new heaven and new earth here on earth. Not that we convert people to our tribe and wait for God to nuke this place, but that we’re in the business of restoration. That we bring hope to the hopeless. That we love everyone regardless of their views or choices in life. That we help the needy, poor, and oppressed. That we give generously, freeing the captives and the addicted. That we transform the world where disease and suffering are alleviated. That we treat others different than us better than ourselves.

The truth is, being politically incorrect, that some Christians happen to be really skilled at covering their flaws and look pretty externally. And even the one’s who are pretty on the outside usually get disillusioned or just end up judgmental cause they are “nailing it” (although that attitude reveals massive heart issues). I happen to be “that guy” that occasionally wears my train wreck on his sleeve. But I keep going, I keep the faith and I keep pressing forward.

This may be surprising to many but the day that I became a Christian is not the day I asked Jesus into my heart. I had not even been attending Church, so I had never confessed to anyone that I was down with this whole confusing Jesus dies on a cross, resurrects, and is God, but God can’t die because he’s eternal…….Instead one day (labor day weekend 2008) I had an experience that was so over powering and so over whelming that I instantaneously knew that I had been wrong my entire life, I had the epiphany that “I’m all in and I guess I’m one of them.” It would be another two weeks before I prayed the confession and started openly identifying as a Christian. I started going, I started in faith, and I started to press forward.

So, Why Am I A Christian?

Because I know I’m a flawed human being. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now. I know there are some church people out there that are good at following the rules but I also know that there are Christians out there acting out in judgment instead of compassion and love. I can be outrageous on occasion when I should be silent and I can be neutral-silent on other occasions when I should be loud. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure, he sees opportunity for growth. When I give up, he whispers, “No, you can make it”. This is why, even as I suck at being a Christian, I Keep Going, I Keep the Faith, and I Keep Pressing Forward.

So maybe if we can all accept the idea that God’s love is wholly separate from our actions, receive it, and give it to others maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel it’s important to beat people down with their theology and doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people. Maybe then, even millennial’s will stop looking at Christians as bigoted and judgmental and out of touch with the times.

I think maybe then, we might even just see Christ’s kingdom here on earth.


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America is a Christian Nation

As a nation, right now, we are at a crossroads in history. I am gripped by a strong urge in my spirit to push forward in discussions that blend spiritual revival with toxic distractions and soul-numbing passivity. What I mean to say is that opportunities for a spiritual breakthrough are here, right now; but way too many Christians are passive and are losing out.  Now, I must admit that I am a Christian with moderate conservative leanings, so the tone shared here may not be comfortable for those that are more liberal leaning, nonetheless, I ask that you prayerfully read the entire contents. Christians are separated from political discourse. Why? They don’t have a clue about economics or political theory, they turn their eye away from the violent rhetoric gripping our nation, or grab their information from heavily right or left wing leaning headlines. It is doubtful that ministries are teaching the flock on how to deal with the national debate. Lance Wallnau believes that “the church is about five years behind the curve”. Bottom line is that this is not a normal moment in history and too many Christians are not equipped to talk about the issues that plague our nation. 

It is almost impossible to discuss political issues today without setting off some emotional responses or outburst. Some issues have become so supercharged and hypersensitive that many simply wont touch it. Why? Because some topics are loaded with figurative landmines that have become so polarized that your political leanings or philosophy simply does not matter – anyone and everyone can be criticized and/or negatively characterized.  What makes this complicated for Christians is that this is not just a secular problem, it is impacting all of us. We are now in a time where Christians are pitted against Christians.  In such a climate, how can any progress be made?  I know this will be criticized but we cannot ignore this topic, because God doesn’t.

For our nation, trouble isn’t coming, some evangelical leaders believe that trouble is here. This means the days and years ahead will be of a different caliber of difficulty and complexity than anything we’ve ever known in the past. The new normal will not look like the 80s, 90s, or even the 00’s. I believe it will be more challenging than people expect, but the kingdom opportunities are far beyond what we imagine. Christians must not get complacent or be passive, they need to find where and how they can get involved. Get outside of your circle and have open, honest, and civil discussions with others that have opinions which differ from yours. Learn why people believe what they believe – and do it with grace and honor.

In the Old Testament (2 Kings), there was a group debating severe issues for themselves. As they contemplated their courses of action they asked themselves “Why do we sit here until we die”? (2 Kings 7:3). They correctly asserted that complacency and passivity would not solve any problems. Once they made a decision, at the prompting of their heart, the Lord prepared their path.  Psalm 11:3 reads that “If the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do”?  The Book of Hebrews reminds us [what the righteous can do].   God is still up to something and we need to join Him in His work. Who speaks for Christians today? The answer is simple. You do.

We have to stay [courageously] and culturally relevant. It’s not only possible but absolutely necessary for Christians and Christian values to become a vital element in the overall moral and cultural discourse of our nation. Without our strategic involvement in the culture shaping this nation we simply cannot be the great and glorious society it once was and what we are meant to be. The Lord knows that we are resourced with excellent resources to be great – He provided them. Let me be up front – the issues we have today are absolutely not President Trump’s fault, though it can be argued that he is complicit. I would argue that the members of our Congress, on all sides, are more accountable as are past administrations. But, back to the church, the church is almost a nonentity when it comes to shaping culture. Mike Bickle argues that “Cultural decay is dragging our young people into gutters of oppression and perversion. War on God fearing Christians is escalating as nations heave in the throes of crises, birth pangs, and political correctness”. If you don’t believe this, then ask yourself why condoms are now distributed in public schools without parent permission or oversight, but the Bible and the principles it contains are banned. How did this happen? Because Christians have abdicated all rules – we got scared.

For too long Christians have allowed themselves to be bullied to hide in closets or under the bed.  Christians are under attack, our faith is on the decline in the USA. We should not be ashamed of our faith anymore than a member of the LGBTQ community is told that they do not need to be ashamed of their choices.  We should have courage to stand up for who we are and we should defend it to anyone. We don’t have to sit back and wring our hands at the way our culture is going down the drain. But I believe that churches in the US are missing it and as a result, its members are missing it.  Salt and light, this is what we have been tasked to do.  In love, we can remove the hate one bit at a time; don’t be violent but do not be afraid to be loud, always remaining in love. Our country is on the decline while our politicians are trying to lead a nation that is at war with itself. It is a dangerous time but Christians can, as ordained, bring the government of heaven to the earth.

Dave Barton, the founder and leader of Wallbuilders, offers the following:

90% of pastors believe the bible addresses current issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, immigration, socialism vs. free enterprise.  While 90% believe the bible has something to say, only 10% are willing to address the issues. Are they concerned about being seen as political? They don’t want to take risks? Afraid they will lose members? Worried about losing tax exempt status?  But, if churches cannot (or will not) do this, then how do you mobilize Christians to change, or turn, the political climate?   Conservative churches have a biblical mandate to teach but they are choosing to ignore things in order to be a safe space. Does this make the church irrelevant? These days, people are choosing to invest their time into things that are relevant to their lives, not on topics or lectures that do not intersect with what their lives or the life questions in their daily struggles. Is this why Millennial’s are leaving the church? Evidence suggests that they are engaged with others that are open and having free willing conversations. Instead churches are focused on hope, potential, dreams, and prophecy; it is really a challenge. 

I don’t know where Dave got these statistics but I trust him. So, we have less than 4 weeks until the mid-term elections and rather than mobilizing people to talk about things to turn around the political climate, politicians and their helpers are mobilizing brain power to determine how to survive. I would argue that instead of just hanging around the fringes of our culture, we (Christians) need to be right smack dab in the middle of it. I am extremely tempted to argue conservative versus liberal, but not today, this is about Christian involvement. So here we are as Christians, we ring our hands, we pray, we listen to our favorite worship music or podcasts. This is not the same thing as political engagement. I would agree that some people are simply not wired or prepared to express emotional intelligence in a political debate or discussion.

Political debate and Christian inclusion goes beyond the act of “voting”, which is very important, but God needs people who will take a stand for what is right. Christians must [lovingly] speak out for what is true and right. To speak out for what is true and right requires more than just railing against evil. The call is for rational, cogent, well-crafted presentations of positive alternatives gleaned from the scriptures. But, unfortunately, evangelical Christians have abdicated. There are a few that are trying – can you name two that have the spotlight? We primarily spend our time and energies talking only to each other, writing only for each other, arguing with each other. To be properly positioned, we must take a hard look in the mirror. Too much of our inspirational rhetoric has become both anemic and insufficient relative to the coming storm. Times and seasons change; if we discern the Spirit is leading this, we are compelled to obey, even if it requires disruption.

At this stage, it would just be nice that Christians start involving themselves in cogent and civil discussions – regardless of political philosophy or leaning. It is important that Christianity find its way back into “the system”.  To this end, I pray that all are well and may the Lord bless you in your endeavors. 


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Politics in a Christian Life

In September 2018, my time at Wycliffe Associates was coming to a close; for two weeks prior, I prayed and meditated on a blog as I was prepping to sign off from one organization and sign on to another.  As many should be aware, I am passionate about politics and the impacts on our communities from the local level to the national level. And oh boy! This is a really long one, my sincerest apologies but I pray that you find this interesting enough to read through it.
The Opening
There are two topics that many consider to be taboo: religion and politics. Oh man! Two topics that I LOVE having intellectual discussions about. When you blend Christians with a political discussion – watch out!!  I believe that Christians are placed into three distinct categories when it comes to politics: 1) some bury their heads in the sand and ignore it, don’t want anything to do with it, 2) some monitor it but keep their thoughts completely to themselves and will not discuss political topics, it is private and no one else’s business, 3) some will openly debate anything. Which one do you think I fall in?  I love political debate but I do get frustrated when the other person(s) have an opinion on a political matter but have no knowledge of the topic – they get their opinions from headlines or media (ugh!).  Good Lord that makes me sad.  I was asked once about my thoughts on whether it was acceptable to have an opinion on a matter based on the impact(s) to the individual. Yes, I do. Is this selfish? No, I don’t think so. If a political issue will have a negative impact on your life then it will very likely have a negative impact on others; you are not alone.  Even if the impact is positive to me but negative to you; I fully and deeply respect your opinion on a matter.
With all said, I wanted to know what the bible has to say about politics. What is Jesus’ position on politics?  If Christians are all relying on the Holy Spirit for political guidance, then why do Christians continue to have varying opinions on a matter? After all, there is only one Holy Spirit, right? Would He not provide one venue of guidance to all? After all, we are all one body – right? Spoiler alert – I believe Christians should be as engaged in political debate as their anointing and spiritual equipping allows.
Before getting to the meat and potatoes of the topic, here are two things that I think we can all agree on regarding politics (I hope):
  1. The Christian faith is under attack in the USA. We continue to see ups and down in the court of public opinion and, unfortunately, in court cases.
  2. Separation of Church and State is used quite a bit as an argument, BUT, “In God We Trust” is still our national motto.

General Politics

Why a blog about politics? How does this topic mesh with Christian faith? Because I believe that our political climate is representative of the condition of the hearts and minds of us as a nation. As a nation, we are of one body, but, we are a body of individuals. We can believe in the power of our nation but the power of our nation is built upon the accomplishments, and mistakes, of individuals. And this line between what one considers an accomplishment and what another considers a mistake is widening and innocent victims are beginning to fall into the resulting chasm.  We are in dangerous times and the climate is getting worse as tribal lines are drawn; as each tribe fights for it’s right to survive, its members have to go to more extremes to get their point across (tit for tat). As things get more extreme, tribes work to strengthen their lines, they dig into their trenches, and all out warfare ensues. If this sounds like trench warfare similar to WWI, I feel it is. Tribes dig in and work hard to hold their ground while opposing forces work to gain more ground, and boy does it get ugly. In political circles, this ground is a reference to power. He who holds the power guides the nation (or so they believe). As Christians, should we ignore this, or, should we find where we can get involved? 

We all know that within the USA, there are many political parties (or caucuses) but there are two major political parties that hold the power (Democrats and Republicans).  Each party has philosophical differences regarding liberalism (the left) or conservatism (the right).  Those that choose to not be a member of one of these parties might be considered an Independent – most likely a moderate conservative or a moderate liberal (what most call “the center”). Being an Independent allows you to think freely, allowing you to choose a position on a candidate or a topic based strictly on your opinion without violating a tribal line.  Yes, many people will strictly vote across their partisan line regardless of the positions of the candidates or the impact of a law or regulation.  As over 95% of people in political positions are Republican or Democrat, the disadvantage of an Independent is that they do not get to choose which candidate will represent a particular party during the general election.

Now, with that said, is it acceptable for a Christian to victimize or “talk junk” about a sitting political leader? Absolutely not. However, in full disclosure and transparency, I am one that spoke out adamantly against President Obama and shared my thoughts and opinions about his policies and actions on a regular basis. I think it was during his last 2 years in office that I woke up to my mistake and realized that I had been acting out in sin. Jesus taught His disciples to respect governmental authorities. Regardless of the nation in which one resides, respect for that nation’s leaders is part of the responsibility of a true Christian. Paul speaks of this when writing to the Romans, “Let every soul, be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2, compare with Daniel 4:17). So no, I do not believe that a Christian has authority to “speak junk” about a sitting President or other political leader.

Let’s get real for a minute – yes, President Trump is vicious in some of his tweets and such, and yes, he is blunt, direct, and uncouth. Some Christians welcome this because they are sick and tired of the “political speak” that we have been hearing for generations; but, there are other Christians that wish, and expect, our President would speak with more polish and care about what he says. After all, he does represent our nation on the global stage. Nonetheless, he is the elected President and, as Christians, we should respect him. We should be praying for him regarding wisdom, courage, and spiritual revelation in his decisions. Should Christians be speaking out against him in public settings and screaming “impeach him”? According to Jesus, no.  Peter adds, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15). I suppose some Christians believe that Trump is evil and therefore speaking out against evil is justified. Other Christians think Trump is appointed by God to lead. Food for thought.

It is both acceptable and understandable that Christians are a part of every major party across the USA. I do not believe that Christians fall into a liberal pool or conservative pool. Once upon a time, all Christians were predominantly considered liberal; most recently, most evangelical Christians are believed to be conservative (I disagree with this but this is hyperbole shared in the media). If Jesus were walking the earth today, I do not believe He would be a party partisan, I believe He would be an Independent. Christ has good reason to remain apart from “earthly” politics. The message He preached was about government, but a government He would bring to the earth, not one that would come about through human effort. Jesus’ message was about the government of God that will rule the world and that will bring about world peace!

Christian Politics

Are Christians supposed to stay aloof of earthly politics? “No” says David McGee, senior pastor at The Bridge Church in Kernersville, N.C. He says that “God has called us to influence society. After all, Jesus spoke out repeatedly on issues such as fair wages, unjust trade, oppression of widows and economics.” Being on the side of the poor or excluded isn’t about having progressive values, the right opinions or even voting the right way. It’s about the decision to leverage any power, privilege, abilities and resources you have to transform not only an individual’s immediate circumstances but, more importantly, the economic, social and cultural systems that perpetuate inequality, poverty, exclusion and exploitation. Laws matter, national budgets matter, political policies matter because they not only reflect what society says is OK but provide the framework on which structural inequality – or social equity – is built.

  1. Political Speak, Respect Those in Authority

In the book of Acts, Paul has the opportunity to speak to major political leaders of his day, and when he did, he didn’t speak to them about policy or hard hitting issues; he spoke to them about Jesus. Our job as Christians and leaders of our community is to share the Word of God on all things, including social issues.

Romans 13: 1-3: Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 

1 Peter 2: 13 – 16: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

Proverbs 29:2says “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Our nation needs a leader of upright moral character. We’ve seen what happens when power enters the hand of the wicked. Hitler killed because he held the keys to the nation’s power, and Sandusky molested children because he had power and authority over them. Character is influenced and developed by choices. Character will help people weather the storms of life and keep people from sin. Men and women of character will set a good example for others to follow, and their godly reputation will be evident to all. Our nation will be stronger with a leader of high moral character.

  1. Live in Peace and Unity and Stand For What Is Right; But Remember Honoring God Comes First

Psalm 133:1tells us: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” But where is our unity? John 6:43says, “Stop grumbling among yourselves.” We are not to bicker among ourselves, a huge problem in the midst of any Presidential election or political issue. People take sides and hurl aggressive and condemning comments at one another. God speaks on this political matter through Leviticus in which God says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Seek unity and harmony.

I believe God has called Christians to be influencers of society. We are to engage in society and political conversation about right from wrong as taught in the Bible. We are to uphold God’s moral code. The best way to do that is to get involved in the political dialog. Do not judge or show hatred, but rather educate in these discussions.

Acts 5:27-29: The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

Acts 4:18-19: Then [the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law] called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Isaiah 33:22: For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is He who will save us.

Psalm 33:12says “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” Render unto Caesar what is his, but we must obey the law but know God is the ultimate ruler. He rules not only of the United States, but the world. We must obey God over men; over political leaders. Though I do not agree with some of the laws currently upheld in the United States, Christians cannot take advantage of our legal right to act on them, we must keep God’s law over the law of the land.

  1. We Have To Pay Taxes (Even If We Don’t Want To)

Romans 13:6-7: Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority

Matthew 22:19-21: Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

  1. We Are Called To Pray For Our Leaders (this does not mean pray for leaders in the morning and then “talk junk” about them for the rest of the day)

In Titus 1: 7-8the Bible describes a good leader. “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” This description is what we should reflect on with choosing who we will politically support.

1 Timothy 2: 1-4: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

  1. Virtue; We Are Called To Seek Justice, Defend The Oppressed And Help The Poor

According to Jesus in Matthew 28:19, we are to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are to go out and spread God’s Word; we are to teach all people including political leaders of God’s law. We must disciple people to make godly decisions about government and promote the efforts of those who are already doing so. Voting was instituted as a way to give every citizen a voice. Your voice reflects what you are willing to support and what you are not, so vote Biblically.

Isaiah 1:17: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Jeremiah 22: 1: This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there …. Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”

The World View

I believe that all Christians should care about politics but I know that only some are called, or anointed, to play a key role or part. Not all are equipped to handle difficult debate, the emotional intelligence or cognitive skills to “walk the talk” on the fly. During the course of a presidential campaign, it is common to hear evangelicals, especially younger ones, quip, “I’m just not that interested in politics,” or, “Politics just aren’t my thing.” These dismissive remarks are often delivered with a veneer of piousness implying that political engagement is inherently defiled, occupying an arena unfit for those serious about the gospel. For those inundated with television ads, robo-calls, campaign mail and the overall negative tone of politics, this might be a tempting position to adopt. However, I am of the mindset that this is not a position that Bible-believing, gospel-loving Christians can or should accept as congruent with Scripture. 

The message of the gospel is that by grace through faith sinners can be reconciled with God (Ephesians 2:7-8). This message transforms individuals and enables them to lead godly lives. Mandated by Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20), Christians are charged to share the good news and disciple others in faith. The gospel is a holistic message with implications for all areas of life, including how Christians engage the political process.

  1. The Christian worldview speaks to all areas of life.

A frequently raised objection against Christian engagement with politics is that anything besides explicit preaching and teaching of the Bible is a distraction from the mission of the church. However, this is a limited understanding of the kingdom of God and contrary to examples in Scripture.

The Christian worldview speaks to all areas of life, including political engagement. In fact, the Bible speaks about civil government and provides examples of faithful engagement. 

  • In the Old Testament, Joseph and Daniel served in civil government, exerting influence to further the flourishing of their nations. 
  • In the New Testament, Jesus engaged in holistic ministry, caring for the spiritual and physical needs of people. Feeding the hungry and healing diseases were an outworking and extension of the reconciliatory message of the gospel. 
  • Paul also advocates this approach: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone” (Galatians 6:10). And: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). 

Engaging in “good works” should include participating in the political process because of the legitimate and significant role of government. The decisions made by government have a substantial impact on people and the way we interact with them. A Christian worldview should include a political theology that recognizes every area of life must be included in the “good works” of believers, especially politics, an area with significant real-life implications for people. 

  1. Politics are unavoidable.

As “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11), it can be tempting for Christians to adopt a mindset that earthly governing systems are inconsequential to the task of furthering the gospel. But ask a pastor in an underground church or a missionary attempting to access a closed country if politics are inconsequential. Religious liberty, passports and visas are not unnecessary luxuries but are often vital for pastors and missionaries seeking to preach and teach the gospel. 

Augustine’s City of God offers guidance on this point. Believers are citizens of the “City of God,” but on this side of eternity, we also belong to the “City of Man” and therefore must be good citizens of both cities. There are biblical examples of how membership in the earthly city can be leveraged for furthering the reach of the heavenly. Paul’s appeal to his Roman citizenship (Acts 16:37, 22:25) is a model of this.

In an American context, engaging these dual cities takes on added significance because of the words prefacing the Constitution: “We the people.” In the United States, ultimate national sovereignty is entrusted to the people. James Madison explained that the “consent of the people” is the “pure original fountain of all legitimate authority.” This reality makes politics unavoidable for American citizens who control their political future. 

Because politics have real-world implications for Christian evangelism, missions and preaching the gospel, Christians ought to engage the political process by leveraging their rightful authority, advocating for laws and policies that contribute to human flourishing.

  1. We need to love our neighbor.

When questioned by religious authorities on the law, Jesus explained that loving God with heart, soul and mind was the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37). He added that second in priority was: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). 

Followers of Christ are called to love and serve their neighbors (Matthew 28:19-20). When asked about the qualifications of “neighbor,” Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), indicating that irrespective of race, background, social status or occupation, neighborly love is owed.

In a very real sense, politics is one of the most important areas in which Christians demonstrate love to our neighbor. In fact, how can Christians claim to care about others and not engage the arena that most profoundly shapes basic rights and freedoms? Caring for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and lonely is important to Jesus and should be to His followers as well. Jesus said, “As you did it to one of the least of these you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). 

Fulfilling the biblical mandate to love our neighbor and care for the “least of these” should be a priority for every believer. Again, a holistic approach is essential. Loving our neighbor includes volunteering at a homeless shelter, as well as influencing laws that encourage human flourishing. Good government and laws are not negligible factors in the prosperity and freedom of a society. 

For example, the majority of North Koreans are held in economic bondage by corrupt political forces, whereas in South Korea, citizens are given liberty and a system that encourages prosperity. The people of North Korea need more than food pantries and improved hospitals; they need political leadership and policies that recognize human rights. Advocating for these changes in totalitarian countries is crucial for loving our neighbors in oppressed areas.   

Obedience to the golden rule includes seeking laws that protect unborn children, strengthen marriages and families, advocate for the vulnerable, and provide opportunity for flourishing. Politics is a means of effecting great change and must be engaged by Christians who love their neighbor.

  1. Government restrains evil and promotes good.

Government derives its authority from God to promote good and restrain evil. This mandate is expressly stated in Romans 13:1-7. Elsewhere, Paul urges that prayers be made “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Paul understood the need for Christian participation in government. 

Government plays a role in the work of God’s kingdom on earth. Good government encourages an environment conducive for people living peaceably, whereas bad government fosters unrest and instability. Because of sin, the legitimate institution of government has, at times, been used illegitimately throughout history. However, numerous examples persist of Christians reasserting their influence and redeeming government to promote good and restrain evil. 

In How Christianity Changed the World, Alvin Schmidt documents Christian influence in government. Examples include outlawing infanticide, child abandonment and gladiatorial games in ancient Rome, ending the practice of human sacrifice among European cultures, banning pedophilia and polygamy, and prohibiting the burning of widows in India. William Wilberforce, a committed Christian, was the force behind the successful effort to abolish the slave trade in England. In the United States, two-thirds of abolitionists were Christian pastors. In the 1960’s, Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, helped lead the civil rights movement against racial segregation and discrimination.

Carl Henry rightfully stated that Christians should “work through civil authority for the advancement of justice and human good” to provide “critical illumination, personal example, and vocational leadership.” This has been the historic witness of Christians concerned about government promoting good and restraining evil. 

Jeremiah 29:7says: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Referring to Babylon, the prophet recognized that secular government served a legitimate purpose in God’s plan for Israel. This is still true. Today, good governments promote literacy, advance just laws, provide religious liberty and allow churches to preach and teach. Good government can serve as a conduit for the furthering of the gospel and human flourishing. 

Christian witness in the public square contributes transcendent values about moral and ethical issues. Christian withdrawal opens a moral vacuum susceptible to influences that pressure government to move outside the purview designated by God. Politics affects government, shapes society and influences culture. Because of what the Bible teaches and the inevitability of its effect on our culture, Christians must care about politics.

The Jesus Example (Politicians working together)

Lets follow the example of Jesus’ selection of disciples. Would we want to make disciples the way Jesus did? The culture of Second Temple Judaism was as politically charged as ever. The spectrum of political parties was wide and multifaceted, including the Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots, Sadducees, and even the dreaded “tax collectors”. When Jesus walked on the earth, He entered into this political fray.  Two of the characters Jesus chose were on complete opposite sides of the political spectrum. Zealots were a political party that worked to incite violence and rebellion against the Roman Empire, to expel them from Holy Land by military might. Some have even gone so far as to say that the Zealots were the among the first expressions of terrorism. Anyone who sided with the Roman Empire were therefore enemies and targets of their violent attacks. And yet, from among them, Jesus chose Simon to be his disciple.

Then there’s the tax collector, a job that no Israelite wanted. Signing up for the job made you the most despised and hated person in your community because it was your responsibility to exact taxes from your own people to pay the Roman government. It is widely held that tax collectors abused the tax system, demanding more money and making away with great profit. They were not only unethical cheaters; they were traitors to their homeland and kinsmen. A tax collector may have had money, but that was just about all they had. They were pawns of the Roman government and objects of scorn among their own people. And yet, from among them, Jesus chose Matthew to be his disciple.

Now imagine with me for a minute what it must have been like to see that Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector are now on the same team! How is that possible? Left to himself, Simon wanted Matthew dead. Left to himself, Matthew demanded Simon to submit to Roman taxation. What were their first conversations like? What was Jesus doing in putting these two together? Did he not factor in their drastic positions? Their strong political affiliations? Their seemingly irreconcilable differences?

The fact that they are included among the original 12 apostles is striking. Jesus intentionally made disciples of people who, outside his reign and rule, were enemies of one another. He put them together, commissioned them in His name to call people to repentance. By this, Jesus said, the world will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another (John 13:35). Can you imagine what it must have looked like for Simon to love Matthew, and vice-versa? Jesus took a terrorist and a traitor and made them His disciples. Paul also commented on respecting government leaders when writing to Titus. Paul told this pastor, “Remind them [the members of the Church] to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1).

In Closing

Christians have many different opinions about what constitutes good government. Jesus said that his “kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). That marvelous statement still leaves an important question unanswered: As long as we live in this world, what kind of civil government is right for humankind? The Bible does not contain an explicit blueprint for government. It does, however, provide abundant guidance and clear precepts for moral conduct in our thoughts and deeds that should influence our politics. Liberty, justice, charity, right, and wrong are dominant themes throughout the Bible. The political challenge is to get them in the right balance. In I Samuel, chapter 8, it is plain that the highest form of government would be for the people to follow God’s laws, and that any human ruler (and by extension, human government in general) will be prone to abusing the people under its authority.

Just how much power a human government should have has been a perennially vexing problem ever since. Founding Father James Madison famously wrote in Federalist No. 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Alas, of course, men are not angels, so how much external government do they need? Robert Charles Winthrop, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1847 to 1849, stated, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either via power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.”

Many American Christians have a different opinion about the proper role of government today. Some desire to expand the scope of government as strongly as I favor shrinking it to the size our founders envisioned. And I must concede the possibility that we living in America today don’t deserve the limited government that our founders established. Perhaps Joseph de Maistre was at least partly right when he wrote, “Every country has the government it deserves.” John Adams believed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” It may be that the American people have moved away from moral self-government to a degree that renders our original constitutional order impracticable today. Maybe (??). In closing, I will leave that thought with you.


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