Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What's the Truth About the First Thanksgiving?

Cultural Winsomeness Will not Be Enough for Christians

"What’s the lesson here? There are many. But to focus on just one, this story is a reminder that no amount of cultural sophistication or intelligence will absolve the Christian from being seen as a backward-thinking bigot. I say this because there’s an evangelical temptation that believes that if we can just communicate orthodox beliefs in the right way, if we can appear as nuanced as possible, then those on the other side of the aisle will see us as goodwill, reasonable actors. We’re tempted to think that finding the right aesthetic or tone will resolve the underlying tensions that exist when Christianity confronts the world with an ethic that the world does not want to hear. We think we can have our cake and our popularity, too. Chow is a living example of how this approach is naive.

Winsomeness as the utmost priority for Christian faithfulness in the public square will leave individuals with no place to go when this kind of witness still earns us the reproach of culture. As Chow’s example demonstrates, we should be willing to share our convictions without the fear of what reprisal will come.

Be gracious. Be winsome. Be civil. Be polite. Of course, never be less than these things, but at the same time, realize that to be a Christian, more may be required of you, like sharing what’s on your conscience and being willing to pay the price for it. Your kindness will still get you in trouble."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

When the Future You Planned for Never Comes

Great article on perspective from Bryan Stoudt . . .

"Before we turned 32, my wife and I said goodbye to our golden years — and to the second half we had hoped for. The one where our kids, deeply committed to the Lord, finally grow up and leave college, giving us long-awaited margin and freedom to serve the church more deeply, relocate, and travel together.

Our precious son Matthew has autism. His diagnosis changed our family’s future forever. Matthew will not go off to school, get married, or do all the other things we typically hope for our children. At a time where we were hoping to launch him into the world for Christ, we need to have him declared legally 'incompetent' so we can make decisions on his behalf. But the hardest losses are unseen, and we still grieve not truly knowing, and being known by, the person we thought he’d be.

While we know this is God’s best for us, it’s still very hard and can bring us to tears on any given day, often without warning. The next season of our lives is going to be messy, unpredictable, and far more restrictive than we imagined on the day he was born."

Read the entire article here at Desiring God.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Two Different Temptations Facing Young Evangelicals

"Each generation of young Christians has to face the reality that biblical teaching conflicts decisively with contemporary secular morality. That conflict is often especially acute in the area of sexual morality. Moreover, the price of social acceptance is often theological compromise. Yes, people in good faith reach contrary positions on the authority and meaning of individual scriptures, but one would have to be willfully blind to deny the persistent pressure toward 'inclusivity' and the irrebuttable presumption of moral superiority inherent to secular progressive ethics.

Young Evangelicals who dissent from orthodox Christianity do not become old Evangelicals. They either migrate to secularism entirely or to progressive Christianity. Young Evangelicals who are politically conflicted rarely remain conflicted into middle age. They tend to find their political tribe. While Evangelicals rightly lament the compromise of faith, they often ignore (or don’t fully comprehend) the compromises inherent in their tribal migrations.

So, young Christians, hold your faith tightly and your politics loosely. You will not find a home here. As Peter says, you are a 'foreigner and exile.' It’s best to get used to it early on. Trust me, it can be a gut-wrenching discovery to make when you’re old."

Picture used by permission from Pexels

Thursday, November 8, 2018

God Can Be Trusted

God can be trusted even when we don’t understand His plan.

When your husband unexpectedly loses his job.

When the doctor’s report negatively surprises you.

When the election results aren’t what you hoped.

When your loved one dies.

When your friend walks away from you.

God can still be trusted.

Read my entire article here at Inspire a Fire.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Moments with Hendrix and Billy Graham

This week on November 7 my family celebrates the birthday of our oldest son Hendrix. What a joy to be his parents, and how quickly in some ways 18 years flew!! Here is a picture of Hendrix on election night as he was on his way to the GOP party in Rock Hill, SC.

This weekend he and I head to Liberty University for a college weekend visit.

Hendrix shares a birthday with the Rev. Billy Graham, who would turn 100 this week. (We considered naming Hendrix "Graham.") To commemorate his 100th  birthday, Grace Publishing produced a commemorative book called Moments with Billy Graham. 

I am honored to be one of the authors who contributed to the book. My story in the collection is called "World Changer." You can purchase the books at Amazon, directly from Grace, or Barnes and Noble online.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Christians - Engage Politics and the Public Square

I love playing board games, leading devotions, and eating meals with my family. However, if the house is on fire, I'm not gonna keep playing a game and later email my insurance adjuster. I'm gonna shout and get help. I'll do what is necessary to protect the house. No, the house is not the most important thing. The house holds that which is important - my family and friends. But it is important.

In America, the house is on fire. The political-social structure of our nation has burned for years, while the church often stayed silent.

In recent years, the Rev. Franklin Graham serves as a great model. He throws himself into evangelistic and humanitarian causes through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse. Yet he also regularly speaks boldly into the nation's social-political atmosphere. His Decision American Tour seeks to get Bible-believing Christians engaged once again in politics and the public square.

The great preacher Adrian Rogers said, “It’s better to speak truth that hurts and then helps than falsehood that comforts and then kills.”

A misconception persists among Christians that we are ever to be the “nice guy” in the room.  The Mr. Rogers of the group.  The super-positive person who wants everyone to hold hands like Barnie the purple dinosaur and sing “I Love You.”

Or, some Christians warn we should not speak about politics because it will bring division and somehow hurt our gospel witness. Had such advice been followed in the past, the world may have missed the American Revolution and the end of slavery.

No doubt, the Lord calls His children to exemplify godly behavior, most often characterized by traits such as gentleness, kindness, joy, and patience.  However, it is also true that at times believers are to confront, challenge, and rebuke wrong patterns of thinking and behaving.

Politics and the Public Square

David Lane of the American Renewal Project aptly writes, "Prophetic leaders who display “a close relationship with God and a thorough knowledge of His word” (Cole, Numbers Commentary) and show equal skill in the business of politics in the public square are quite rare. Modern leadership appears to be more obscure and bookish. 

Over the last 50 years Christians have adopted, to all appearances, a different mode of engagement in the culture than the American Founders, which calls for remaining quietly behind the four walls of the church building. 

Having run roughshod over the once Biblically-based culture, secularism and secularists should be challenged where competition is fiercest: in the public square. It is painful and agonizing to realize WHO has been so fully and plainly rejected over the last two or three generations.

Fear of the ‘world’ and its seemingly insurmountable power has no real influence on those with vision and discernment regarding God’s promises and workings. Real power does not lie in military might or in Gross Domestic Product; ultimate power and authority belong to God.

The Church’s passive response to Secularism over the last century has given rise to a Christian subculture whose sole function has become the mitigation of obscenity, sexual perversity, video game violence, broadcasted pornography, and every other imaginable anomaly advanced and lionized by secularists."

Priest vs. Prophet

Pastor Charles Swindoll discusses the tension of God's people, explaining the difference between the Old Testament functions of priest vs.prophet.  The priest was the nice guy, the peacemaker, the routine person.  The prophet, however, shook things up.  

“He was not wanted.  He was seldom respected by the sinful people and often hated, resented, and martyred.”

Warren Wiersbe explains, “Most people don’t want a prophet around, because he makes them uncomfortable. While the popular leaders bend with the wind, the prophet stands firm as a wall, so he can lead the nation forward.  He is a physician who exposes the ugly sores before he applies the medicine.  He is in short a person who creates problems by revealing problems so he can solve problems.”

Today our nation wants the church to be priests but not prophets.  And, many times, Christians want Christians to assume the role of priests but not that of prophets.  

And many Christians want to embrace the priestly side without the prophetic edge. We want to narrow the focus to only embracing the salvation side of the gospel. But the gospel speaks to the totality of life. The apostle Paul declared, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) - not just the part about salvation.

The church has even sometimes wrongly thought it was not their place to speak into the political arena.   Such an attitude weakened Christianity's engagement and influence with our culture.

We don’t want to rock the boat.  We don’t want to offend.  We don’t want to sound rude, arrogant, or “not nice.”

Interestingly, the actions of many of God’s servants through the pages of the Bible would not get them inducted into the “nice guy” hall of fame.  They might, instead, be called trouble-makers or rabble-rousers.

Biblical Examples

Consider just a few examples.

Noah preaches to his generation for more than a century, calling them to repent of their wickedness.

Elijah directly confronts the king and queen, calling out their poor character, deception, manipulation, and self-absorbed natures.
Nathan confronts the king, rebuking him for his adultery, murder, and deceit.  

Jehu is appointed to round up and destroy the remaining house of Ahab for their wickedness.

John the Baptizer appears on the scene with scathing rebukes for the pompous religious leaders as well as the king.

Jesus Christ preaches, often giving the unjust religious leaders scourging and scorching tongue-lashings. On two different occasions, offended by their unrighteousness, Jesus displays physical violence in turning over tables in the Temple courts.  He even used whips.

When sin is confronted, and challenged directly, it often comes as bolts of lightning. We never saw that on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Through the Bible, God called his servants to speak directly to the culture, the national and political leaders, and the religious groups of the day.  Much of the message of the major and minor prophets as well as the New Testament messengers contain biting indictments.  I will only list a few:

Elijah: Elijah tells Ahab that he is a troubler of Israel because of his family’s many sins (1 Kings 18:18).  

Isaiah: “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption.  Your hands are full of blood.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight!  Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  See how the faithful city has become a harlot!  She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her – but now murderers! . . .  Your ruler are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes.  They do not defend the cause of the fatherless.”  (parts of Isaiah chapter one)

Jeremiah: Jeremiah rebukes the people: “My people are fools . . . senseless children; they have no understanding.  They are skilled in doing evil; they do not know how to do good.” (4:22)  He chastises them for their dishonesty, refusal to believe God’s Word, and their listening to wind-bags who claim to be prophets.

Amos: Amos prophecies against the people, who have rejected God’s law, turned aside to false gods, took bribes, and neglected the poor.  They turn justice into bitterness, cast righteousness on the ground, hate the one who reproves in court, and despises him who tells the truth (5:7-10).   The prophet laments, “I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins” (5:12).

Micah: Micah rebukes Israel and Judah.  The leaders stole from others, took advantage of women, and lived in their own luxury: “Hear this . . . you leaders . . . who despise justice and distort all that is right . . . .  Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money (3:10-11).

John the Baptizer: But when he [John the Baptizer] saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath?  Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.  (Matt. 3:7-8)

Summarizing the ministry of John the Baptizer, Christ said that “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12).  God’s kingdom moves forward in part through the lips of servants willing to speak truth even when it costs them.  John confronted the king with his personal sin, and they cut off his head.

Jesus Christ: In the entire twenty-third chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives scathing, blistering rebukes of the Pharisees.  He points out their lack of integrity, selfishness, and hypocrisy.  Such a sermon today would certainly not meet the “nice guy” criteria!

Sin Abounds

Our national news today continues to abound with sin and wickedness.  

Our generation has witnessed a model of corruption in the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Newt Gingrich says, "Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person to ever run for the Presidency."  

Evidence continues to surface of the deep state corruption that marked the Obama Presidency - noted by many people as the most corrupt Presidential Administration in American history. 

Respect for law and order, for policemen, for the Constitution, for God, for the Bible, for people of different races, for the sanctity of human life, and for the people of America is constantly challenged.

This country became great because of its Judeo-Christian values, and it will become great again as we protect the freedom to nurture those values. The progressive Left showed the country in the Kavanaugh hearings what to expect if they rule - mob law, gross deception, massive character assassination, no regard for the rule of law, and as Hillary authenticated - no civility. My mother said the way the Left acted during those weeks was the most disgusting thing she has ever seen in American politics. 

We live in a day where the church must speak truth into the culture.  Christians must communicate into the national and political processes.  Believers must not be silent.  We must speak.

Where are the prophets today speaking into our current political structure?

The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.  The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice."   (Isaiah 59:14-15   New Living)

In every day, including our day, the church must be concerned about truth and justice. 

Christ-followers certainly must balance truth with love.  Albert Mohler says that the challenge of the church in our day is to learn to speak the truth with love and to love the world with truth.  There can be no love without truth, and there should be no truth without love.

That truth, however, will sometimes sting.

Adrian Rogers had another good saying about truth: “It’s better to be hated for telling the truth than loved for telling a lie.”

God may require the church in our day to be hated for telling the truth.  Let’s choose truth, even if it costs us.  

Rafael Cruz rightly tells pastors, "If preaching the gospel is the most important thing, then protecting the right to preach the gospel is the second most important thing."

As the prophets remind us, biblical Christianity is not mainly about our comforts but our cause.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

Franklin Graham: Why This Is the Most Important Election of Our Lifetime

"Two years ago, I said that the 2016 presidential election was the most important election of my lifetime. That was because of one compelling reason—the new president would be responsible for nominating at least one and probably several more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, the direction of the Supreme Court is still the single most crucial issue facing our nation, which means that this November’s midterm elections are once again the most important we have ever faced.

The spectacle surrounding the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is just a foreshadowing of what we can expect if progressive-liberal socialists rule our country. And believe me, they are doing whatever they can—no matter how devious and disgusting—to see their own godless agenda forced upon us."

Monday, November 5, 2018

Move Forward, Not Backward

My friend Rep. Jeff Duncan, serving the 3rd congressional district of South Carolina in the United States House of Representatives, shares why a vote for the Republican Red Wave is a vote for America . . .

"When I first came to Congress in 2011, taxes were high, regulations were costly, and the economy was sluggish. President Obama tried to convince the American people that the slow pace of economic growth was the 'new normal.' His administration was more focused on social engineering rather than making Americans more prosperous. I fought the policies of the Obama administration, and I’m thankful that after eight years, Americans saw fit to move the country in a new direction.

This era was ushered in through President Donald J. Trump – businessman, leader and outsider.

Ever since the 2016 election, our nation has started to see positive change. Due to the largest tax cut in American history, billions of dollars have been brought back to the U.S. from businesses overseas, investing in our workers and our economy. The economy has been on fire, yielding the longest positive job-growth streak ever recorded. Overall unemployment claims reached a 50-year low, while African-American and Latino unemployment rates are at the lowest level in recorded history. A total of 4 million new jobs were created since the election, and the average household income for the Third District of South Carolina increased by 4.4 percent from 2016-2017, the second-highest increase in the state.

What do all these numbers mean for South Carolina families? They mean that we have more money to spend on the necessities of life, to save for our children's future, and to put toward retirement and other savings. They mean that nearly everyone has a brother, sister, friend, or neighbor who has gotten a better job, or is simply better off than they were just a few years ago.

However, successes are seen well beyond the economy. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have a president and Republican allies in Congress, like myself, who have made the people's priorities their own.

This means cracking down on illegal immigration by enforcing laws on the books and eliminating loopholes that encourage people to come here illegally. It means pushing to build a wall on the southern border to stop the flow of drugs, illegal immigrants, smugglers, and terrorists from coming to our country. We have moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, re-examined trade deals to protect American workers, slashed bureaucratic red-tape and costly regulations, backed out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, repealed the Obamacare individual health insurance mandate, fought ISIS like never before, and passed the first-ever opioid package to help eradicate this crisis in our communities. The list goes on!

We have made tremendous progress over the past two years, but we now find ourselves at a crossroads. Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are fighting to win control of Congress, and if they are successful, they have their sights on undoing these hard-earned gains.

The first priority of the Democrats is to grind the legislative process to a halt and create massive roadblocks for the Trump agenda. Nancy Pelosi has said herself that one of her first acts as speaker would be to raise taxes. Sen. Cory Booker has said that impeaching and removing Brett Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court should be on the table, and we know that the number of Democrats wanting to impeach the president grows by the day. They are advocating for government-run, government- controlled health care, estimated to cost $32.6 trillion in the first 10 years alone. This new wave of radical liberalism stands for open borders, abortion on demand, and restricting our Second Amendment rights. I know for certain that these are not the priorities or values of the Third District.

We need to focus on improving the lives of the American people, not re-litigating the results of the 2016 presidential election. We need to use these positive economic times to ween people off of government welfare, not to adopt failed socialist policies. We need to be moving forward, not backward, which is why we cannot allow the progress we have made to be derailed by an agenda based on government control, fear, and hate."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Monday, November 5: Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation

There is much at stake in next Tuesday's midterm election. Issues such as the sanctity of life, religious liberty, the security of our borders, our response to Islamic fundamentalism, and the advance of the radical LGBT agenda are all on the ballot.

AFA is encouraging God's people to pray and fast on Monday, November 5, for God's will to be done on Election Day. Let's appeal to the God of heaven to intervene and motivate his people to select godly leadership to guide our country.

God has shown great mercy to our nation despite our manifest sins. We have seen Pastor Brunson released from a Turkish prison and pray for the president in the Oval Office. We have seen another constitutionalist (Brett Kavanaugh) seated on the Supreme Court despite intense opposition. And we have seen the president stand in the way of the transgender lobby and redirect both our military and the Department of Health and Human Services in a biologically and biblically correct direction. Let’s thank him for his undeserved grace.

Let us pray and fast in the following ways:

  • That Christians would continue to love the lost and share the gospel with them
  • That Christians would be emboldened to hold and defend a biblical worldview
  • That all candidates and our country itself would be protected from attacks from within and without during this election season
  • That the electorate would be granted God's wisdom to choose candidates of godly character, discernment, and judgment

Please, forward this to your family and friends. Make copies of this alert to share with your pastor, church and Sunday School members.

President, American Family Association

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay