A Comforting Calculation for Troublesome Times

A Comforting Calculation for Troublesome...

One of my high school textbook had a map of the Assyrian Kingdom during biblical times. I found it almost humorous that the Assyrians had conquered all the territory of the whole Middle East except for a barely visible little plot of land that had somehow resisted their assault. How could that be?

Years later I found the explanation in Scripture. In fact, it is recorded twice: 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37. The story goes that Sennacherib conquered all that part of the country except Jerusalem. He sent a messenger to tell the Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem that they might as well give up because they had no chance militarily, and since the gods of all the other nations could not deliver those nations from him, it was obvious that the Lord their God would not stand a chance against him either.

It seems that the Lord did not take kindly to his insults and sent an angel to wipe out 185,000 of his troops in one night. This outcome clued Sennacherib into the possibility that the Lord just might be different than those other gods, and that trying to fight Him was a bad idea. In response he and his remaining soldiers hightailed it back to Nineveh, leaving that tiny territory unconquered by him.

This story leads to some encouraging calculations. They begin with a minor correction. Though all of the major translations of this event in both 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 indicate that these soldiers were exterminated by “the angel of the Lord,” in both passages the article is not in the Hebrew text. This work was done by “an angel of the Lord.” In other words, this job was not done by some special angel.

The scenario in heaven might have gone something like this. The angels Michael and Gabriel were sitting around the celestial command center when word came from the Lord that He wanted 185,000 Assyrian soldiers slaughtered. Michael commented that wiping out a mere 185,000 was hardly worth his time, and Gabriel concurred, concerned that doing that small of a job might ruin his reputation. Then Gabriel got an idea. “Hey, how about angel Private Johanni. He should be getting off KP about now. He has a couple hours before going off duty. Let’s send him.” And they did, and he handled the job with no problem. The point is that the biblical account suggests that any ordinary angel can take care of 185,000 enemy soldiers.

Have you ever wondered why when Jesus was being arrested He informed Peter that He could ask His Father for 12 legions of angels? Why twelve legions? The math is quite interesting.

A legion was comprised of about 5,000 soldiers. Therefore, 12 legions would be 60,000 soldiers.

In the case of 12 legions of angels totaling 60,000 angels, if each one had the capacity to decimate 185,000 enemy troops, they would have the combined capability of killing off 11,100,000,000 (11 billion, 100 million) enemies. The current world population is about 7.5 billion people. Therefore, 12 legions of angels could easily deal with the entire world population, with considerable cushion for further population growth.

Whether that’s what Jesus had in mind in stipulating the 12 legion number, that calculation nonetheless provides assurance that the Lord has everything under control.

On those days when Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer become especially irksome, or George Soros rolls out another scheme for using his money to make our lives miserable, it is good to remember that they are merely pawns in God’s plan of history. Just like Col. Hogan was always several steps ahead of Sgt, Schultz and Col. Klink, so the Lord is in control of every situation, only at a much higher level.

And if they get too rowdy, He might send Private Johanni to deal with them. If at times you are wondering why the Lord isn’t moving faster in dealing with some of these people, maybe He is waiting for Private Johanni to get off of KP duty.

Evangelicals Beat Spiritual Anorexia

Evangelicals Beat Spiritual Anorexia

I love the picture of the 400 pound man wearing a smile of triumph and a T-shirt bearing the inscription, “I beat anorexia.”

Anorexia is no laughing matter. People die from it, and even those who deal with it successfully go through a long period of struggle for them and their loved ones.

Of course, the joke is that the man in the picture not only beat anorexia but is light years away from the danger zone. Imagine holding anorexia seminars for frequent fliers at the all-you-can-eat buffet. You could assure them that their culinary hangout was providing them with a safe space.

The extremes of anorexia and obesity remind us that life is filled with dangers on the further reaches of both ends of the bell curve. We have the spendthrift and the miser, the health nut and the fast food fanatic, the neatnik and the slob, the speedster and slowster, the hypochondriac and medically indifferent.

In Matthew 16:6 Jesus reminds us of extremes in the spiritual world, warning His disciples: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In Mark 8:15 He cautions, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Since these gospels are recording the same incident, apparently Jesus spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees on one hand and that of the Sadducees and Herod on the other hand.

The Pharisees were so fixated on righteous living, especially as stipulated in their tradition, that they ignored God’s ultimate concern for loving people. They didn’t care about the disciples’ hunger or the healing of the man with a withered hand but only that the disciples and Jesus kept their Sabbath regulations. Living at the opposite pole, the Sadducees and Herod maintained a safe distance from overdoing the law, ignoring its moral teachings almost completely.

We also encounter danger moving too far in either of these directions. For example, in past generations some Christians were so opposed to women using makeup that like the Pharisees they unnecessarily imposed hardships on their daughters attending public school. However, the other extreme of ignoring biblical morality as did the Sadducees and Herod is also possible.

In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were the more aggressive party, often challenging Jesus. As a result, Jesus dealt with their error much more frequently than that of Herod and the Sadducees. Perhaps Scripture gives more attention to the extreme of the Pharisees because it is more subtle, posing as spirituality, while the antics of Herod and the Sadducees where blatantly ungodly.

Because of the scriptural focus on the error of the Pharisees, it is easy to lose sight of the opposite extreme, concluding that the only threat to the Christian life is legalism. That perspective may not have been too troublesome during times when the church was leaning in that direction, or even today if one belongs to an Amish sect.

However, we live at a time when the leaven of the Sadducees and of Herod are overwhelmingly more predominant. With the church riddled with people using pornography, with many if not most evangelicals viewing movies containing nudity, with divorce and cohabitation rampant in the church, and with attending church twice per month being considered normal, like the 400 pound man with the “I beat anorexia” T-shirt, we are a long way from being threatened by legalism.

Despite the current predominance of the leavened by the Sadducees and Herod, evangelicals tend to ignore its incursion and continue to fight the threat of legalism as if it were looming large and ready to pounce and devour at any moment if not beaten off by continual vigilance. We find books assuring us that we need not “perform” to please God as if most evangelical women were on the verge of reverting to culottes and men were getting measured for black shirts and pants. It seems that every other evangelical on twitter describes himself as a “Grace freak,” and “Grace fanatic,” assuring us that his defenses are raised against the legalistic hordes that are storming the church gates.

Just as anorexia is no laughing matter, neither is legalism. However, for the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, their ongoing battle with legalism is tantamount to the 400 pound man fighting anorexia. They are light years away from the danger zone. Perhaps they should have T-shirts made that state, “I beat legalism,” and then stand next to the 400 man who beat anorexia to be photographed, wearing the same victorious smile. Or maybe we should take a new look at the holiness of God and say with Isaiah, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Spiritual Success without an Easy Button

Spiritual Success without an Easy Button

My pervious post made the case that God does not provide an easy button for believers but rather that the Christian life requires that we fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, a struggle that demands spiritual strength and endurance to win.

If believers do not understand this, they will enter the battle of the Christian life without the necessary preparation. Imagine a soldier entering a combat zone without going through basic training, without the essential equipment but wearing shorts and a T-shirt, without realizing that the enemy is shooting at him. The medics would be carrying him off to the field hospital in nanoseconds.

Some preachers prefer to think of the church as a hospital. Certainly this should be one function of the church. But if the church realized that we were in a battle and functioned as a basic training and equipping facility, most of its members would not be hospitalized.

What sort of equipping and training do spiritual soldiers need in order to survive and win the battles in which they will surely be engaged?

Perhaps the primary resource for this fight is Scripture, specifically the whole counsel of God. The contemporary evangelical tendency to believe in a battle-eliminating easy button has resulted in failure of Christians to equip themselves with Scripture. Expository preaching has been replaced by “needs-oriented” sermons. Bible studies have morphed into studies of someone’s book. My mother and mother-in-law both had read through the Bible many times. In fact, my mother-in-law shortly before her death memorized Psalm 119 with its 176 verses. These saints were better equipped for battle than most contemporary soldiers and consequently spent little time in a spiritual hospital. At most they just needed a few Band-Aids along the way.

Prayer also constitutes a major piece of equipment for the battle. Not only has this weapon been neglected in the personal lives of contemporary Christians but also in the church. In the primary service of most churches substantially less time is devoted to prayer than to announcements, especially if we exclude prayer for the offering. Prayer meetings are practically nonexistent, and if they do exist they are attended by only a handful of people and are comprised predominantly of activities other than actual prayer. One hour-long “prayer meeting” I attended recently only devoted about five minutes to prayer. While the enemy is shooting real bullets, wounding many Christian soldiers, contemporary evangelicals tend to be rummaging through their knapsack looking for the TV remote.

Another piece of equipment supplied by the Lord consists of the church, which provides fellowship and teaching. However, recent studies reveal that typical contemporary evangelical church attendance consists of showing up on Sunday morning about twice each month. It was not all that long ago that most believers could be found in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Though Scripture does not designate how often a person should attend church, it can be safely assumed that those who immersed themselves more fully in the equipping and training resulting from church participation were better armed for the spiritual conflicts of life.

Though mention of these resources may sound like tired bromides and a return to legalism to contemporary evangelicals, the fact is that those availing themselves of these provisions were better equipped to fight and win the battle. If most evangelicals are patients, and most of the rest are doctors and nurses, we can’t expect to win too many battles, and in fact we have not. Most conflicts are not won by doctors and nurses and their patients.

Winning must begin by recognizing that God does not provide an easy button for living the Christian life, but that it consists of the battle for which we must be equipped and trained. Only then will we get serious about gearing up for the fight, and only when we do that will we start to win.

Evangelical Beliefs Undermine the Role of Religion in America

Evangelical Beliefs Undermine the Role o...

PragerU offers an excellent video on the role of religion in a free society. It notes that “government isn’t enough. A moral people is also required, that is, a people moral enough to police itself.” George Washing observed that “virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

The video cites the founders’ belief that “the absolute enemy of freedom was a freedom that was absolute and unrestrained.” Yet, absolute freedom is precisely what contemporary evangelicals teach. The message that God loves and accepts people unconditionally in effect offers “a freedom that is absolute and unrestrained.” The assertion that we need not “perform” to please God frees people to live as they please with God’s blessing. My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, shows these concepts to be unbiblical.

Thomas Jefferson asked, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? And that they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” Evangelicals have removed that firm basis by erroneously teaching that God loves and accepts us regardless of how we “perform.” Since the wrath of God does not fit that template they eliminate it by redefining the fear of God as “reverential awe,” despite many passages requiring that the fear of God refers to actual fear.

We know we are in trouble when Thomas Jefferson is more biblical in his understanding of Scripture than evangelicals, the guardians of exegetical accuracy. This Independence Day, let’s acknowledge that Christians must live morally in order to please God and escape His chastening. Then, as Jefferson noted, our freedoms will be much better secured.

Does God Provide an Easy Button for Believers?

Does God Provide an Easy Button for Beli...

This constitutes a serious question because many evangelicals believe that He has, and if He has, what a shame to struggle unnecessarily.

A traditional Easy Buttons offered to believers is framed in the cliché, “Let go and let God.” You don’t have to engage in the struggle. Just let God do it.” I have heard people offer testimonies to the efficacy of this approach. “I kept trying and failing, and then I realized that I was trying to do it instead of just letting God. When I just let go and let God, I experienced victory.”

Faith comprises another Easy Button for Christian living. Instead of struggling with pornography or overeating you should just trust God to deliver you. As the contemporary chorus of a couple of decades ago taught, “It’s not in trying but in trusting.” So if you are trying, making an effort, exerting your will, you are not trusting, employing a biblical approach to Christian living.

Another means of rising above volitional effort is found in the old teaching based on Romans 6 that we should just “reckon ourselves dead to sin.”  Just believe that the sin nature is dead and has been replaced by the new nature that reflects Christ. You struggle with sinful behaviors because you have not accepted this reality by faith.

Note that all of the above really morph together into the same concept. As believers we need to reckon ourselves dead, believe that God has stepped in to fight the battle for us, and let Him do it.

A more subtle and more contemporary Easy Button is found in the teaching that we should not behave biblically because we have to but because we want to. Practicing godly behaviors because we ought to comprises legalism. Instead, we just need to realize that we are accepted regardless of how we live, apart from performance, and doing so will create within us the motivation to live as God would have us live. Therefore, we do not need to struggle to live godly lives but merely to grasp the truth of God’s unconditional love and acceptance, which will motivate us to do so spontaneously.

The problem with these perspectives on Christian living resides in their dissonance with many New Testament passages asserting that living the Christian life is difficult and requires that we struggle.

Paul conveys this reality related to his own life in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” He is asserting that his body prods him to take a more comfortable but sinful path. Living the Christian life requires engaging in and winning that struggle.

Paul charged Timothy to take on the same struggle. In 1 Timothy 6:12 he commands, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” The Greek word translated “fight” is the source of the English word “agony.” The life of faith is often agonizing, requiring that we discipline ourselves to walk the walk of faith regardless of pressures to do otherwise.

Paul describes this struggle in Galatians 5:17: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” The Christian life regularly calls us to engage in and win the struggle against the desires of the flesh.

Jesus addressed this issue in mandating, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) I believe one reason Scripture includes the experience of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane is to reveal to us the tremendous struggle Christ had in yielding to the cross. Apart from this account we might find Christian romantics gushing, “Jesus loved us so much that he just couldn’t wait to have the nails driven into his hands and feet.” The reality, however, was that facing and enduring the cross was a great struggle for Christ. No doubt bearing the cross that He has for each of us is also painful, requiring a struggle to endure it.

As a result, the New Testament includes many passages teaching the need for endurance, the commitment to keep going when the Christian life becomes hard. Hebrews 12:1 calls us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….”

It is important for believers to know that the Christian life is a struggle so that they engage in the struggle effectively. The teaching that we behave biblically not because we have to but because we want to fails to address the many times daily that we do not want to behave biblically, starting with not wanting to get up in the morning. Unless believers are taught that struggle constitutes a major element of the Christian life, they will not be prepared to engage in the fight. Rather, they will wonder what hit them, and chances are that they will lose the battle.

Also, the realization that the Christian life is a struggle reminds Christian leaders of their responsibility to prepare their people to engage in that struggle. On his first missionary journey, Paul retraced his steps to the churches he had planted for the purpose of “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Paul recognized the importance of warning them about the challenges related to living the Christian life. So today it is necessary for pastors and other Christian leaders to both warn and encourage believers regarding the hardships of Christian living and to teach them how to effectively engage in that battle.

I selected the name “hope that’s real” for this blog because real hope must be firmly founded on the realities of biblical truth. Conveying that God offers an Easy Button for Christian living ultimately undermines real hope, instead creating disillusionment. Facing, preparing for, and engaging in the struggles of Christian living provides the basis for real hope.

Rethinking the Requirement for Salvation

Rethinking the Requirement for Salvation

Perhaps the salient question facing evangelicals today is the one asked by the Philippian jailer: “What must I do to be saved.” (Acts 16:30)

The answer given by Paul seems simple enough: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” This response, however, requires that we accurately identify “believe.” Since belief comprises the operative element in Paul’s statement, it is crucial that we get the answer right.

Concern regarding ambiguity is aroused by assertions that salvation requires not only a head belief but a heart belief. That distinction is not obvious.

Concern is heightened by scriptural statements such as that of Jesus in Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” This suggests that believing in Jesus Christ entails a commitment to bear our cross and come after Him.

Some contend that this verse does not describe the condition for salvation but for discipleship—that there are two levels of believers: ordinary and disciples. However, this distinction between garden-variety believers and disciple does not enjoy scriptural support. Consequently, this verse suggests that saving faith includes a commitment to follow Christ regardless of the cost.

The popular gospel presentation offering salvation by asking Jesus into one’s heart comes nowhere close to conveying this concept of faith. Consequently, this presentation may be giving seekers confidence that they are headed for heaven when in fact they are destined for damnation. This gospel also leaves those responding unaware of their obligation to follow the Lord regardless of the cost, resulting in spiritual immaturity and unfruitfulness. These two outcomes are producing confusion and weakness in the contemporary evangelical community.

Evangelicals need to rethink the definition of faith before running a special on salvation.

Are Evangelicals Responsible for Telling the Truth?

Are Evangelicals Responsible for Telling...

During a conversation with a friend he swerved into his tirade over President Trump’s withdrawing America from the Paris Accord. He wondered out loud whether this resulted from Trump’s total ignorance or his egotism, assuming that no informed, rational person would make a decision so harmful to America and the planet. The basis for concerns he expressed were irrational. As I began to list disasters that would have resulted from our continued commitment to the agreement it was evident that he was unfamiliar with these facts.

I was again reminded that the Left advances its agenda by replacing the truth with lies. It uses its significant powers to suppress the truth, e.g. banning conservative speakers form university campuses, preventing conservative professors from getting tenure, or omitting reality from the news, and propagating in its place a set of lies, telling these tales often enough through multiple communication sources, that they become reality for most Americans. Many of these assertions comprising the imaginary world of the Left are presented as the findings of science.

Reflect for a minute on the lies that a large segment of the American population has embrace as truths.

  • An unborn baby is merely a part of a woman’s body, and therefore should be assigned no independent rights.
  • The real injustice consists of Pres. Trump colluding with the Russians, of which no evidence exists, while illegal activities of Hillary and Obama are of no concern.
  • Darwinian evolution comprises proven fact, and any opposition to it by Intelligent Design advocates should be rejected as religion and not science.
  • A homosexual orientation is healthy, good for society, and should be celebrated.
  • A person should follow his feelings regarding gender identity, and any attempt to align those feelings with his biological gender is wrong and should be condemned.
  • Women should be allowed to fill any military role.
  • Homosexual and transgender presence in the military do not lessen combat readiness.
  • Transgender biological men should be allowed to compete in women’s sports.
  • People who believe that homosexual behavior is sinful are homophobic haters.
  • The climate change movement is built on proven science, and all those opposing it are ignorant and unconcerned about the environment.
  • Allowing good people to own and carry guns makes society less safe.
  • The nation of Israel is an oppressor and Palestinians are the oppressed.
  • Islam comprises a religion with moral and spiritual benefit comparable to Christianity and therefore should be supported in its efforts to impose its values on our society.
  • Cohabitation provides a valid alternative or precursor to marriage, allowing a couple to test their compatibility before making a commitment.

This list could go on ad infinitum of lies comprising the fake worldview of the Left.

The danger resides in the power of the Left both to propagate this false perspective of life and to impose its related values on our society, and the damage to our society resulting from adoption of this erroneous understanding of reality.

This worldview is imposed forcefully on college campuses, making it extremely difficult for students not to adopt all or at least significant parts of it. Consequently, evangelical students adopt many of its values. Even schools with some evangelical connections such as Baylor and Wheaton manifest the influence of this worldview. To a lesser degree, the same is true of most public schools.

The dominance of the worldview of the Left is making it increasingly more difficult for people holding a biblical worldview to survive in the workplace. Often the price of survival is for evangelicals to remain silent regarding their beliefs while those embracing the narrative of the Left are given free rein to express theirs, the end result being the inexorable advance of the Left’s representation of reality.

This imposition of the false narrative of the Left on society is producing chaos and devastation. For example, the proliferation of cohabitation is leaving many children without a stable family environment and consigning many women to the hardships of the single mom role. This results in a serious drain on our economy and government. Countless other examples could be cited revealing the damage inflicted by the worldview of the Left.

The question confronting evangelicals is whether we are responsible for exposing this fake worldview and promoting the truth as aggressively as possible? The answer to that question resides at least partially in the consequences for the church, our nation, and our children if we do not. My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, describes how the evangelical church in America can respond effectively to the dishonest perspective of the world promoted by the Left. If we do not utilize our God-given capacity to do so, we will be responsible for consequences suffered by the church, our nation, and our children.

The Most Crucial Question Confronting Evangelical Christians

The Most Crucial Question Confronting Ev...

Prospects for America are not encouraging. Even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress and the White House, the Left continues to prevent conservatives from making major gains while it moves its agenda inexorably forward.

Repeal of ObamaCare keeps getting watered down and delayed, President Trump can’t get his budget through Congress, the courts keep blocking his efforts to protect Americans from unvetted refugees, and the deep state continues to create chaos. Meanwhile, the media creates issues out of thin air that gain sufficient traction to engender special investigations. Our college campuses are virtual hotbeds of unabashed Leftist indoctrination. LGBT advocates continue to advance their agenda, and Planned Parenthood still receives government subsidies that fund the killing of unborn babies.

A compelling question confronting Christians is how we should respond.

We have several options.

First, we might conclude that society is headed in the right direction, and given time things will work out. Therefore, we just need to keep doing what we are doing. The problem with this perspective is that from all indications we are losing our nation to the godless Left that is committed to discredit and deactivate the church.

We can also conclude that there is nothing we can do, and that we must just reconcile ourselves to coming persecution. Some evangelicals even wear this conclusion as a badge of honor. They are willing to suffer for Christ.

In reality, cultural and political victory is within the reach of the evangelical church if we unify and develop an effective strategy. I describe the path to victory in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win. The most crucial question confronting us is whether we will rise above our lethargy and fight.

Big Money against the American People

Big Money against the American People

Texas is seeking to protect the modesty and safety of women by passing a law related to transgender biological men in women’s bathrooms and shower rooms. The bill did not make it out of committee during the legislative session, so now Governor Greg Abbott may call a special session to force the issue.

A Family Research Council article reports that a group of rich tech companies to include Salesforce, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Dell, Cisco, Amazon, Google, Silicon Labs, Celanese Corp., GSD&M, and Gearbox Software are seeking to use their influence to subvert the will of the people of Texas on this issue.

This is not the first time big tech companies employed their monetary muscle to force their gay and transgender agenda down the throats of the American people. When Indiana sought to pass a law protecting citizen’s religious liberties against homosexual tyranny, many of these same players intimidated that state. Some of them also used their influence to oppose North Carolina’s HB2, along with other financial powerhouses such as the NBA and NCAA.

The Family Research Council article notes that even though these companies attempt to economically coerce states to adopt pro-transgender policies, they have not adopted these policies in their own companies. One can understand why. In posturing as great civil rights crusaders, fighting for the rights of transgenders, they are trampling the rights of women and placing them in danger.

Doing so is especially ludicrous since the problem could easily be solved by providing a separate bathroom for the 0.6 percent of the adult population identifying as transgender. This arrangement does not suit the Left, apparently because their ultimate goal is not to solve the problem but to force a sexually perverse arrangement on the American people.

The Dictatorial Left

The Dictatorial Left

Somewhere in the ancient past the terms “liberal” and “the Left” became viewed as synonyms. However, today’s “Left” is anything but liberal. One definition of liberal has it promoting “the freedom of the individual and governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties.”

Though the Left seeks to self-identify as liberal, with historical connections to initiatives such as the free speech movement, we have witnessed in recent days its practice of silencing any speech not conforming to its ideology.

Other non-liberal practices of the Left include forcing Christian bakers and photographers to employee their skills for homosexual weddings. These homosexuals, not satisfied with the liberty to marry whom they choose, are bent on forcing those with differing beliefs to violate those beliefs or suffer severe consequences. This is not liberalism but totalitarianism.

Likewise, the Left, not satisfied with a transgender biological male having his own bathroom, demands that this biological male be given access to girls’ shower rooms, depriving women of their modesty and safety. In this issue the Left exercises power over women at one of the most intimate levels, insisting that wives and daughters expose their bodies to the view of another man. This comprises totalitarianism in its most demeaning form.

The latest dictatorial demand of the illiberal Left manifests itself in the Canadian requirement for doctors to provide euthanasia to patients, either personally or by finding a doctor who will. Either option implicates the doctor, mandating that those rejecting this practice for religious reasons violate their conscience. Patients in Canada desiring euthanasia could easily find a doctor to perform this act themselves, but that would never do. The Left is committed to forcing those disagreeing with its ideologies to deny their convictions.

The antithesis of liberal is dictatorial. The latter term defines the Left.

A Word of Hope for America this Memorial Day

A Word of Hope for America this Memorial...

I am reading through the Bible this year. Today’s reading included 2 Chronicles 7:14, “(I)f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Any attempt to apply this verse to our nation quickly elicits a chorus of voices, some prominent ones, objecting that because this verse is addressed to Israel, we cannot claim its promises for America.

Though technically this may be true, this position misses the point that this verse embodies a spiritual principle. The fact is that God will hear, forgive, and bless any nation that calls on His name, humbles itself, prays, seeks His face, and turns from its wickedness. We know that to be true because we can observe God functioning in this way throughout history.

Consider God’s mercy on Nineveh in response to their repentance. In fact, it was the predictability of God’s mercy that made Jonah reluctant to go and preach to this enemy of Israel.

We also see God’s blessing on England and America during the years when they were following God. Of course, no nation is perfect, but God in his mercy brings blessing in response to general commitment to Him.

More recently God displayed His blessing on the Fiji Islands in response to repentance and revival. He not only brought political and economic restoration, but He actually healed the land and seas, bring fruit and fish where there had been barrenness.

Not only does God hold out hope for America, but the solution is simple. We just need to follow the principles of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Gospel and the Future of America

The Gospel and the Future of America

A recent Barna poll divides Americans into four religious categories, measuring their percentages of the American population: evangelical Christians (6%), non-evangelical born-again Christians (25%), notional Christians (42%), adherents of non-Christian faiths (6%), and religious skeptics (23%).

A remarkable finding resides in the significant number of non-evangelical born-again Christians—one quarter of the American population. This group claims to have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

They differ, however, from evangelicals in that they do not agree with all of seven other criteria embraced by the 6% of evangelicals. Those criteria include a responsibility to share their faith, belief in the existence of Satan, belief that salvation is only through grace and not works, belief that Jesus lived a sinless life, belief in the validity of the principles taught in Scripture, and belief in the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful God, who created the universe and rules it today.

We can understand the existence in our society of skeptics and people of other religions. With the presence of liberal denominations we also anticipate a substantial number of notional Christians who make no claim to a born again experience. However, how do we explain the presence of this 25% of our society with an evangelical salvation-type experience and the related hope of heaven but without an evangelical spiritual belief system? It is rather astounding that this group is over four times larger than the evangelical category. How do we explain their existence?

My first thought was that perhaps the demand of meeting all seven other criteria for being an evangelical was excessive, creating a larger chasm between this group and evangelicals then was warranted. However, after revisiting that list of seven criteria I realized that they were all cardinal Christian concepts. The beliefs regarding God and Jesus are foundational to the Christian faith, that Satan is a personal being is clearly taught in the account of the testing of Christ in wilderness, etc. Denial of any of the seven displays a serious rejection of the authority of Scripture. The fact that 46% of these “non-evangelical born again Christians believe that “Jesus sinned during his time on earth” calls into question the basis of their faith. How could a sinful Jesus redeem sinners? In other words, this group of people secure in their heavenly destination manifest some serious spiritual deficiencies.

Their existence is best explained by the nature of the contemporary evangelical gospel, which emphasizes the “free gift” dimension but omits, and even rejects the commitment component of faith. Therefore, they have assurance of heaven without an awareness of the obligations related to the Christian life. Are they actually headed for heaven? Have they expressed genuine saving faith? Only the Lord know; however, it is a scary prospect to think that a significant mass of humanity may be unwittingly destined for eternal doom.

Another concern is that this ticket-to-heaven-on-your-terms gospel is failing to produce biblically oriented Christians related to social issues, resulting in the continued moral slide of American society. Only 59% of non-evangelical born again Christians identify as social conservatives. On the abortion issue 37% are not pro-life, and 27% advocate for gay rights

Imagine if evangelicals presented a gospel that clearly conveyed that saving faith included a commitment to Christ, and if those responding would aggressively interject Christian truth into our society. Visualize how different our nation would be if the percentages were reversed, if only 6% belonged to the non-evangelical born again category and 25% were evangelicals. I further address this issue in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win.

The future of America depends on the church’s presentation of Jesus as Lord and not just a conductor on the train to heaven. The eternal future of many human beings is at stake also.

The Rainbow Coalition Represents You

The Rainbow Coalition Represents You

A Family Research Council article reports that the American Embassy in Macedonia flew the Rainbow Coalition flag along with the American flag to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, & Biphobia.

The message conveyed by this action is troubling since, as the article suggests, the overwhelming majority of the Macedonian population is opposed to the LGBT agenda. Consequently, as guests in that country our embassy is promoting a cause that conflicts with the moral position of the people hosting us, a display of gross inconsideration.

Our embassy gets away with this shameful and shameless disregard for Macedonian hospitality because of its strength and money. The American Left loves to criticize our nation for flexing its muscles around the world. Yet, they don’t mind doing so in promotion of their own causes.

Another problem with this practice, in which American embassies in other nations have participated, is its identification of the American people with the LGBT agenda. By flying the Rainbow Coalition flag an embassy, which represents the American people, connotes that this orientation characterizes the position of the American people, which is patently not the case. Less than 3% of the American public is homosexual, and when pro-LGBT issues have been put to a vote in various states, they have almost always been voted down.

This practice, begun under the Obama administration, continues because influential members of the deep state at the State Department are aggressively pro-LGBT. In addition, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, provided substantial impetus to changing the Boy Scouts toward a pro-gay position. Therefore, we can expect that he will not oppose this practice.

These developments demonstrate that unless the evangelical church provides united, aggressive opposition to the LGBT movement, it will succeed in its objective of dominating American culture.

They Do Anything with Impunity; We Do Nothing with Recrimination

They Do Anything with Impunity; We Do No...

The comparison is spectacular. It would be bad enough if liberals went scot-free in the face of blatant and serious misconduct or if conservatives were incriminated even when innocent, but for Hillary and Obama to do their Bonnie and Clyde routine for years without consequence and then for President Trump to be drawn and quartered without substantive charges makes the double standard and the dishonesty supporting it breathtakingly blatant.

How can it possibly be that in the face of Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, classified documents on Hillary’s private server, and pay for play, no special counsel was appointed, but unsupported accusations from undisclosed sources makes one essential for President Trump?

Unfortunately, the answers are all too obvious. First, in America, the media create reality. If they assure us that there is nothing to see here, it’s all cool, facts notwithstanding. However, if commentators display attitudes of deep concern, even when the basis of their deep concern is obscure, the charges are serious and something must be done—and it is. Consequently, not elections or government but the mainstream media ultimately control our country.

This outcome is secured by several factors.

The first resides in the cowardice of many conservatives who scramble like roaches when the light goes on whenever the media assaults a conservative person or cause. Reelection is the name of the game, which means avoidance of anything that would diminish those prospects. Forget standing for principal.

A second factor that allows media to rule America resides in the fragmentation on the conservative side of the aisle. When a person or cause on the Left encounters political problems they circle the wagons and declare war on the enemy. As soon as North Carolina passed HB2, everyone from the NBA to the NCAA showed up in force to punish a state that would dare protect the safety and modesty of women by barring biological males from their shower rooms.

But let someone in our camp get in trouble, and we can count on Senator McCain to share the liberal concern, often forming a gang of eight or 10. But worse than that, the RINOs in general, and even many reputed to be faithful to the cause, will abandon ship, leaving the beleaguered colleague, currently being Pres. Trump, to suffer the full wrath of the media and Democrats.

This splintered conservative configuration shows itself in the amorphous nature of the Tea Party, seeming to have no comprehensive organization or leader and consequently minimal political power. In situations such as the current one, they have no voice and provide no substantive help.

Last, but perhaps most significant, the conservative person under fire fails to receive any meaningful help from the evangelical community. Some prominent evangelicals will occasionally rise to the occasion, but the church as the church is AWOL. This absence comprises a serious matter because the evangelical community constitutes the largest body of conservatives in America. If it were united and engaged, it would be capable of launching an effective counterattack against the media and the Left in general.

Several reasons exist for lack of evangelical engagement in the battle. I discuss these in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win. For starters, evangelicals have their share of RINOs at heart, which prevents them from presenting a united conservative front.

Then there are significant numbers who claim that politics resides outside the circle of appropriate ecclesiastical involvement. This position can be difficult to understand in light of the many moral issues currently at stake in the political arena. Nonetheless, this belief prevents many from engaging in the battle. One suspects that fear of the sight of blood might provide added incentive for this position.

Perhaps the most prevalent and most disturbing factor preventing evangelicals from enlisting is found in their seeming oblivion to the crisis of the hour. They sing their choruses, enjoy a sermon on God’s unconditional love, and leave for Sunday dinner, seeming not to notice that the Left has taken over our nation and is imposing their morality on our society. They seem unaware or unconcerned that their children and grandchildren will either be immersed in a moral cesspool or made to fight their way around it, a fight from which their parents reneged.

So while the Left can do virtually anything without negative repercussions, they can use a fabricated narrative to destroy conservatives. If only we could learn to believe like conservatives and fight like liberals. That might just give President Trump a fighting chance.

Let Your Culture Be Your Guide

Let Your Culture Be Your Guide

A recent training program for faculty and staff at Clemson University advised them to accommodate and make adjustments for students arriving late to classes and meetings whose cultures approved of tardiness.

This cultural relativism raises numerous questions.

  • What if the culture of others in the class values punctuality? Is their culture to be disregarded? Do their cultural sensitivities not matter? If not, why not?
  • Does time lost by punctual people in the class or meeting to accommodate this tardiness have no value? Is the only consideration culture?
  • If the class accommodates tardiness, students will learn less. Does education matter? If learning does not matter, why are students attending Clemson?
  • If Clemson accommodates tardiness for cultural reasons, how about wife beating and honor killings? Will Clemson force its Western values on Muslim students regarding these practices? If not, why not? They can’t excuse these exceptions because they hurt others, since as noted above, tardiness hurts people, also.

So the list could continue of question for which I am confident the Clemson administration has no rational answers.

My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, notes that having traded our Christian foundation for a post-Christian culture America has no functional guide, consequently consigning us to this chaos. I assert that our only moral principle is unconditional acceptance, a conclusion confirmed by this training course. That moral standard leaves us asking, “Who gets accepted and who is forced to do the accepting?” Be sure that Christian values, which have produced our success, draw the short straw.

One more question. Does this acceptance of tardiness apply to Clemson’s national championship football team? I’ll let you guess the answer? The Clemson administration may be irrational, but it knows what’s important.

A Microscopic Look at God’s Goodness

A Microscopic Look at God’s Goodness

We tend to become so entangled in the immediate challenges of life that we fail to step back and study the big picture. David does that for us in Psalm 145, where he makes two observations regarding God’s dealing with humanity. He speaks of God’s goodness to all people, “giving them their food in due time” and ”satisfying the desire of every living thing.” Yet, the psalmist also observes, “The Lord preserves all who love him, and all the wicked He will destroy.”

A glance at our world reveals God doing both of these phenomena.

First, He has designed and maintains the world so that ordinarily the daily needs of human beings are met. Most people in this world have homes to live in, food to eat, families to enjoy, and a semblance of societal stability.

The absence of these blessings does not find its cause in God’s failure to provide but instead in human wickedness that needlessly consumes resources and creates havoc. Imagine the wealth that the world would enjoy without warfare and sinful behavior. Every human being could enjoy affluence. God has provided such bounty that even though much is consumed by sinfulness, sufficient still remains for most people to be satisfied with the necessities of life.

The big picture also reveals David’s second observation, that God blesses those who love Him but punishes the wicked. History manifests God’s special kindness to nations where love for Him is prevalent. Consider God’s blessing on England during the Victorian era and the United States prior to the 60s. On the other hand, contemplate the poverty and chaos of communist, Muslim, and Hindu countries and even America during our post-Christian fling.

God is so good. If people would only love and listen to Him.

The Worst Deception

The Worst Deception

What could be worse than a person with assurance he is headed for heaven, breathing his last only to discover that he has arrived in an eternal hell?

Paul had such great concern about people being deceived in this regard that twice in addressing this issue warned, “Do not be deceived.”

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:5-6)

Scripture also teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not works. Nonetheless, the same apostle who most aggressively taught that truth also penned the words above. Both of these truths are inspired by God and therefore can be reconciled,

However we achieve that reconciliation in our thinking, it is essential that we do not accomplish that objective by ignoring the verses above.

Some contemporary evangelical teachers contend that because we are saved by grace, our performance (read behavior) does not matter. Such teaching deceives the person whose lifestyle is characterized by the sinful behaviors listed in the passages above. This false message is an easy sell since people practicing a profligate lifestyle want to believe that ultimately they will arrive in heaven.

Those believing this message, contrary to the warnings of these passages, are allowing themselves to be deceived to their own eternal peril.

Mother of All Deceptions

Mother of All Deceptions

P.T. Barnum is credited with saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The message: human beings are vulnerable to deception.

Scripture graphically conveys that Christians are not immune from this propensity, warning us repeatedly not to be deceived. The New Testament cites our vulnerability to deception in areas such as fraud by false teachers, falling for erroneous ideas, and being duped into believing that some sinful commodity will bring more satisfaction than its godly counterpart.

This weakness for deception is especially dangerous since deceiving is one of Satan’s specialties, one at which he excels. He started his conning career early, deceiving Eve in the Garden of Eden, recorded in the third chapter of Scripture, and he stays at it until the very end, deceiving multitudes at the termination of the Millennial Kingdom, recorded in the third to last chapter of Scripture.

Contemporary evangelicals have fallen for the mother of all deceptions, the false confidence that they have not been deceived. I recently read an article identifying France and the United States as two of the most secular nations on Earth. How can the American church, probably the largest and most influential church of any nation, deceive itself into believing it has no culpability in this decline? This false self-assurance that we are okay is especially devastating because it prevents us from diagnosing our disease and taking the cure.

Study of Scripture provides the cure for deception. The evangelical abandonment of expository preaching in preference for cherry picking feel-good passages has prevented us from recognizing Satan’s hoaxes. I challenge every evangelical to read through the Bible and ask whether the God it portrays is the same as the God evangelicals worship. An honest analysis would demonstrate that P.T. Barnum was right.

Liberal Propensity for Grand Pronouncements

Liberal Propensity for Grand Pronounceme...

Liberal Propensity for Grand Pronouncements

A major weapon in the liberal arsenal consists of making their positions sound like obvious truth believed by every thinking person for all of time. Consequently, anyone thinking otherwise must be categorized as a Neanderthal numbskull.

This strategy manifests itself in all its splendor in a Huffington Post article by Clay Farris Naff entitled “In Rejecting Gay Bishop, Methodist Court Shows The Folly Of Relying On Scripture For Moral Guidance.” The United Methodist’s Judicial Council rejected the consecration as Bishop of Karen Oliveto because of her lesbian relationship.

If Naff wanted to argue the merits of homosexual marriage, doing so could at least lead to rational discourse. Rather, he resorts to the tactic cited above, asserting that, “To anyone free of ancient prejudices, the injustice of condemning Oliveto is plain.”

Naff labels moral concerns with homosexuality as an “ancient prejudice.” To accept this position we must enter into Naff’s skewed view of reality. Those ancient dark ages would have been less than four decades ago when the American Psychiatric Association viewed homosexuality as a pathology. By “prejudice” he ignores the majority of the world that still rejects homosexuality, identifying prejudice as anyone who does not agree with him.

Evaluation of that “ancient prejudice” might prompt us to consider the success of our society since abandoning traditional Christian morals related to homosexuality. A summary analysis reveals that our nation has declined in virtually every category, suggesting that those setting our society’s contemporary moral norms may not be that smart after all. Maybe if we reverted to those ancient prejudices our society held as recently as half a century ago our nation might start climbing out of its current moral morass. Perhaps the authors of Scripture did know more than the liberals shaping our current cultural climate.

Bill Belichick, Nick Sabin, and Jesus

Bill Belichick, Nick Sabin, and Jesus

My guess is that most football fans, given the option of any coach to put their money on (figuratively speaking, of course), would choose Bill Belichick for the NFL and Nick Sabin for the NCAA. Bill Belichick won the Super Bowl this year. In the college national championship game, Nick Sabin blew a 14 point lead to get nosed out by Clemson, coming in number two in the country. Both of these coaches distinguish themselves as usually coming in on top or close to it. For Nick Sabin a bad season means ending up second in the nation.

Besides winning, these two coaches share the quality of being demanding. Bill Belichick is noted for telling players who have messed up, “Just do your job.” Likewise, on the practice field or on game day Nick Sabin would never be confused with Jolly old St. Nick of Christmas fame. He also expresses in unmistakable terms that he does not take kindly to mistakes.

These observations suggest a correlation between being demanding and winning. Though occasionally a nice guy wins a championship, the Mike Ditkas and Jim Harbaughs of the football world enjoy more consistent success. In addition, in the long run players prefer tough coaches because they enabled them to be better players and even better people.

So, what kind of coach would Jesus have been? The Jesus described by contemporary evangelicals elicits the picture of an unconditionally accepting coach conveying to his players that performance does not matter, that He will be just as pleased with them regardless of whether or not they leave everything on the field.

This picture of Jesus omits much of the scriptural portrayal of Him. Certainly Jesus had a tender side and caring moments, but often He was tough with His team—His disciples.

After calming the sea that threatened to drown them, one might expect Him to say, “That was really scary, wasn’t it? Are you okay?” Instead He retorted, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”

Then there is this story:

Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have no bread.” But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 8:14-21)

This might have been said by Bill Belichick to his team on Monday morning after a rare loss.

That Jesus employed this confrontive approach with his disciples on a somewhat regular basis is indicated by their response when Jesus was teaching them about His death. Scripture records,” But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.” Their fear suggests that Jesus did not subscribe to the view that there are no bad questions.

Or consider the response of Jesus when His disciples could not cast the demon out of the boy:

“O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you?” (Matthew 17:17)

Examination of this passage leads to the conclusion that these words were directed at the disciples. Perhaps some Alabama players might respond, “Hey, that sounds just like Coach Sabin.”

We also find a similarly tough approach taken by the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers. In fact, the books of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians are filled with numerous locker-room-style lines. Consider this one: “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Corinthians 4:21)

My concern resides in the relationship between toughness and winning. Apparently at times human beings need the motivation of tough talk in order to function at their best.

The contemporary evangelical Jesus described above leaves us coddled and pampered. This approach is especially problematic when we consider that the Christian life is described as a battle, and therefore we need every motivation available to endure the related hardships and win. We must fight our own selfish desires, the hostile world surrounding us, and the hosts of hell seeking to destroy us. Consequently, we need the rigorous disciplines administered by winning coaches.

This is not to say that we never need nor should receive empathy and encouragement. These are crucial elements of the Christian life. However, we will not develop as Christians or function at our best in the Christian life if that comprises the totality of our input. One pastor likes to describe his church as a hospital. At times, football players need hospitals. But if that comprises the totality of the training facility, they can expect to lose games. The focal point must be the training room and practice field.

My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, makes the case that evangelicals are losing the culture war in part because we are predominantly running hospitals and not training centers. We might do well to invite Bill Belichick and Nick Sabin to our next pastors’ conference.

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