Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.

Do you know your role in the story of which you inhabit?

We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Do you know your role in this world?

What are your responsibilities and opportunities in this cultural moment?

Where do I start in the square inch God has placed me?

If you are redeemed in Christ, then you inhabit the greatest story ever told. The Gospel is not limited to the way of salvation. It is bigger than that. Yes, your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is important. But, the Gospel I believe is not the Gospel of Lance. It’s not about me. Neither is the Gospel about you. Our salvation is not the end game nor is it the over-arching theme of the Bible. Jesus Christ proclaimed the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’

Michael Craven said, “The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement (payment) for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

J.I. Packer said, “The Gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us… Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is and understand the salvation from sin.”

The bad news is that our modern American gospel is man-centered not a God-centered Gospel. A God-centered Gospel is indeed Good News. There are two competing gospels, the gospel of the world vs the Gospel of the Kingdom. The former leads to death and destruction the latter leads to eternal life and human flourishing.

“Calling is at the heart of scripture.” – Os Guiness

God calls us, moreover, God invites us to inhabit His story. “When Christians see everything as calling from the Lord, we realize the dynamism of our faith” (Os Guiness). As we respond and enter into the overarching story of all of history, we go about setting things right in the world. In other words, we bring order to the disorder we find in our time and place.

“The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.” – The Colson Center

A Unifying Vision:
As Christians, we must cultivate a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal to bring ALL things under the Lordship of Christ as co-reagents of His Kingdom – redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live.

We are witnesses to the ‘in-breaking’ rule and reign of Jesus Christ into history as we redeem and restore that which God has placed in our care. We beseech the lost world to be “reconciled to God” in Christ Jesus as we take our place in His great story.

As Christians, we are transformed through Christ. We are commanded to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with a lost world. We are also given another command called the Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate. “The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen. 2:15).” (9Marks) We create good, true and beautiful culture that transforms the world and the story we inhabit.

The late Chuck Colson said,Transformed lives transform lives – transformed lives transform culture.

We live in an extraordinary moment in history. We have an extraordinary God. We inhabit an extraordinary story. You Were Made For This Time and Place.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Author’s note: The piece I’ve written above are deeper reflections of my experience and what I’ve learned through the Colson Fellows program over the last two years. “Gain wisdom, live faithfully and act courageously.”

 

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Race Redeemed – We Are One

Race Redeemed - We Are One

Recovering biblical anthropology and the true meaning of race

The word and concept of ‘race’ has been distorted over the last 150 years.

Christians have adopted a concept of race that is completely antithetical to God’s definition in Scripture.

The consequences of this redefinition have been devastating to our societies, culture and Christian witness. When those who claim to uphold biblical truths and live by them adopt foreign man-centered definitions and concepts and then import them into their theology, massive worldview implications ensue. Ideas always have consequences and bad ideas have victims.

The Bible is clear, there is only ONE race – the human race.

Race, Not Races:
The Bible is also clear that the one human race takes on a variety of beautiful physical features and expressions. The Bible speaks of tongues, tribes, peoples and nations. It speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places. Like fields of flowers or oceans of fish, the world is full of the human race in all its fullness, variety, and beauty.

Nations – Ethnos:
Recovering the language and meaning of the truths rooted in scripture is extremely important. Words and meaning form and shape how we understand and interact with reality. The word ’Nations’ in the Bible comes from the Greek, “Ethnos” which is where we get the word ‘ethnicity’ and ‘ethnicities’. We are ONE race but many nations or ethnicities. That is the language of the Bible!

The Christian must understand that the modern concept of race does not find any foundational support in the Bible. ‘Race’ does not mean different ’nations’ or ‘ethnicities’ as modern Christians might assume. It actually is rooted in the (bad) idea that the human race is made up of many species of humans. We must ask, is that true? And what are the ramifications of a false premise or presupposition? How do meanings of words impact reality and our lives?

The language of the Bible is clear and unifying all humans are of one race. To argue otherwise is to introduce foreign secular sociological and anthropological concepts into biblical theology, sociology, and biblical anthropology. The consequence is that this importation of foreign concepts distort the meaning of the Bible and our worldview. This bad idea ends up creating moral confusion and division among people. We are witnessing this in this cultural moment.

Races – Samuel Morton, Scientific Racism and Craniometry:

“Samuel George Morton is often thought of as the originator of “American School” ethnography, a school of thought in antebellum American science that claimed the difference between humans was one of species rather than variety and is seen by some as the origin of scientific racism.

Morton argued against the single creation story of the Bible (monogenism) and instead supported a theory of multiple racial creations (polygenism). Morton claimed the Bible supported polygenism, and within working in a biblical framework his theory held that each race had been created separately and each was given specific, irrevocable characteristics.

Morton claimed that he could define the intellectual ability of a race by the skull capacity. A large volume meant a large brain and high intellectual capacity, and a small skull indicated a small brain and decreased intellectual capacity. He was reputed to hold the largest collection of skulls, on which he based his research. He claimed that each race had a separate origin, and that a descending order of intelligence could be discerned that placed Caucasians at the pinnacle and Negroes at the lowest point, with various other race groups in between.” (source)

 

“Morton was heavily influenced in his thinking by the 19th century practice of phrenology (the now abandoned field of study which used the shape of the skull to determine personality traits) and the theories of hereditarianism (a school of thought that saw heredity playing a major role in determining traits such as intelligence and personality) and polygenism (a school of thought that saw human races as created separately and unequal).” (source)

Morton’s theory had an influence on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin bought into Morton’s presupposition that some species of humans were superior to others. The ramifications of this type of thinking continues to be seen in our current day.

In the final analysis, the modern concept of ‘race (races)’ is divisive at its root. Even when people of goodwill speak of ‘races’ in a positive light, the term is divisive. Why? Because the modern concept of race was created to divide humans based on physical qualitative attributes. Everything that flows from the presupposition made by Morton and Darwin divides and destroys the unifying vision of one race established by God. Therefore, terms like racism, racist, etc. divide even when used to call out evil. Modern science has proven that there is NO scientific / genetic basis for different races (see National Geographic Article here)

Biblical Words – A Better Way:
In order to clear up confusion and bring unity, we must recover the language of the Bible. Words matter. Words and language are important to God so they must be important to us. After all, God’s primary revelation is His Word (the Bible). By design, human culture and society is structured around language. When language is confused or the meaning of words are distorted, chaos ensues.

Meaning Matters – What do you mean by that?
If by ‘racism’ you mean ‘ethnic hatred’ or ‘ethnic prejudice’ then the Christian can ground a distorted concept of race in truth and bring it into the full light of God’s word. The Bible states, hatred of any kind is a sin equivalent to murder. We must understand that ‘racism’ as a modern concept is foreign to the Bible. The Christian must recover and redeem words – grounding them in the Christian worldview.

Moving Forward – Reordering Disorder
I’ve been attempting to use the language of the Bible to clarify conversations and public discourse. This is not been without difficultly because I have imbibed the language of modern culture as well. However, I have found that using biblical language like ‘ethnicity’, help people think clearly and move dialog into a unifying direction. The implication of biblical language clarifies things like ‘ethnic superiority’, ‘ethnic prejudice’, ‘ethnic bias’ and ‘ethnic hatred’ as all forms of the sin of hatred.  I stay away from using modern sociological constructs and language like ‘races’, ‘racial superiority’ and ‘racism’ because those words and concepts obscure the full meaning of what people are trying to communicate. Based on my background in anthropology, study of sociology and my analysis of culture, it is clear that many academic activists intentionally obscure meaning and redefine words. So, beware and be discerning.

The thinking Christian must understand that the fall and sin have disordered the world and culture. Then, we must reorder things back to God’s original vision (recovering and restoring)

Recovering A Biblical Anthropology and Meaning:
The Christian vision begins with a Biblical Anthropology of what it means to be human – what it means to be created in the image of God (image bearer) – what it means to be male and female – what it means to be a fallen (sinful) image bearer in a broken (sinful) world – what does it mean for every human being to have dignity and value. What would this world be like if every human looked the same – if no ethnicities existed?

By design, human beings search for meaning in life. When we attempt to create our own meaning or identity outside of God’s vision of human life, we end up creating massive problems individually and culturally. However, when we ground our identity in God’s design as His image-bearers, we see human flourishing. We experience unity in the diversity of individual image-bearers as one race – the human race.

Again, the Bible speaks to the prismatic qualities of the individual and the diverse qualities of different people from different places ALL made in His image. Though we live in a broken world, we see God’s goodness and glory through frosted glass but we see it nonetheless reflected in the multifaceted human race of image-bearers.

Race is a unifying vision of all human beings – wrought by God and born of one womb.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” Acts 17:26

The Bible declares that all people of all ethnicities (nations) in all of history in every place on earth bear the image of God.

We are ONE race – the human race. That is the truth.

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Are ‘Woke’ Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

Are Woke Christians Breaking the 9th Commandment or Worse?

“The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. What does this have to do with “woke” Christians?

Note to reader: There are those who serve as ‘tone police’ who will accuse me of being ‘mean’ or ‘not nice’ because a subjective view of my tone. I’m being terse in regard to this topic because someone must point out that sheep (Christians) are abusing other sheep. What is worse, some shepherds (leaders / pastors) are abusing their own sheep.

My point is, this ‘woke’ nonsense is trash. It has no place in the church – it’s time to put a stop to it. Christ did not spill his blood and lay down his life for his bride (church) to stand in the mirror (social media) and slap herself in the face. We have enough sin in our own lives and in our culture without intentionally creating more. I’m seeing longstanding relationships between Christians be destroyed by this divisive foolishness. I will confront and attack the ideas – not the individual. I humbly submit the following discourse to you for consideration. Come let us reason together and preserve the bond of peace.

Register for live Zoominar – Tues Feb. 2nd 2021 at 7pm CT “Critical Race Theory & the Christian Vision

The one who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 2:10–11

Introduction:

Scriptural Foundation for Me and You

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

There is a powerful movement within the church in America that has taken captive many well-meaning Christians. Under the banners of Social Justice, Racial Justice, Anti-racism and a handful of other names a certain enclave within Western Christianity have taken upon themselves the roles of accuser, judge, jury and punisher for all of Christendom. I’ve written about this extensively here…

To be ‘woke’ and to ‘stay woke’ is to be ‘with it’ or ‘in the know’ and ‘on the right side of history’ in regard to certain current social issues – particularly related to ethnicity and sexual identity. In other words, being ‘woke’ is to reside on the moral high-ground on a popular social issue. Having attained moral superiority through a kind of social enlightenment, the woke Christian’s ‘ministry’ (or service) to other Christians is to publicly castigate and berate their brothers and sisters – usually on social media. This is coupled with a heavy dose of virtue-signaling. Imagine the Roman Colosseum but online and to top it off, Christians are essentially persecuting other Christians.

The Social Justician’s Ministry of Wokeness

The goal of woke ministry is to pound other Christians into submission for the hidden sin of being ‘un-woke’ which is code for racist, homophobic, white supremacist, etc. When challenged, woke leaders tell their victims (brothers and sisters in Christ), that “this is a Gospel issue that only REAL Christians understand.” When someone questions, challenges or refuses to submit to woke demands, they are typically purged, given the mark of racist or white supremacist or some other label – then exiled to purgatory. Excommunication is accomplished through de-friending on social media or ‘canceling.’ Salvation is found in continuous public penitence, self-flagellation and virtue-signaling in order meet the approval of the woke crowd that includes non-Christians who hate Christianity (ironic).

Little covens of ethnic gnostics meet together and engage in woke worship marked by churlish preaching, muckraking, struggle sessions and voyeuristic prayer. Of course, in the context of in-person interactions their behavior is replaced with a kindly smile and the good ole ‘How can I pray for you?’ After all, no one wants to lose their paycheck over this or appear to be ‘mean’, right?

Worshipping the Zeitgeist

Let’s get serious for a moment. All of this wokeness is nothing more than bowing to the spirit of the age (idolatry). Moreover, through deception, coercion, complicity, bad theology, false teaching or a combination of all of the above, some Christians have unintentionally replaced the God of the Bible with the god of the age – the Gospel of the Kingdom with the gospel of culture. Sadly some Christians have completely given themselves over to the woke orthodoxy and completely decimated relationships and destroyed their public witness. Due to the prevalence of social media, this backsliding has become high drama for everyone to see – including the unbelieving world. This should saddens us.

Moral Arrogance, Selective Outrage and Creating an Offense

The moral arrogance of some “Christians” who see fit to label their un-woke brothers and sisters in Christ as racists or white-supremacists or otherwise is staggering. Furthermore, it creates moral confusion in an already confusing cultural moment. Public shaming and virtue-signaling have become a past time for some and doctrine for others. In addition, this movement is marked by selective outrage. Meaning, you must express public moral outrage (emotion) about certain social issues sanctioned by woke orthodoxy. This behavior has the effect of binding the conscience of other Christians.

All of this is rooted in moral arrogance and takes shape in the expression of moralism (not to be confused with morality). What should grieve the community of all Christ-followers is that woke Christians create an offense where one does NOT exist. Then they publicly accuse their brethren of this newly created offense of public sin that requires public repentance. If the accused questions or does not meet the expectations of the woke Christian mob, everything attaches to the contrived offense. In other words, everything you do or say reinforces the offense – guilt is piled on to guilt. As a result, you will be shamed, guilted, cancelled, slandered and eventually purged.

It’s reminiscent of the cliquey “cool kids” or the “in-crowd” in middle school where the “not-so-cool” kids were purged from the lunch table or not invited to the cool kid parties. This is happening within the Church in America but it’s way more destructive and harmful.

If you try to discuss or debate, woke Christians typically assume the position of moral high ground above the particulars of the issues involved. They speak in high-minded sweeping generalities followed by a barrage of ad hominem attacks (name-calling) but refuse to engage the abstract or particulars. And they are never wrong on the issue. It’s repackaged Critical Theory that takes the form of legalism. I digress…

I will not slander other believers. . . . There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. Who am I to judge my neighbor?

James 4:11–12

[paraphrased]

Are Woke Christians Bearing False Witness or Worse?

Note: I am aware that I am a lowly sinner capable of great evil and I have broken God’s commands. So, I am not accusing others of committing sin that I have not committed my self. The posture of my heart is to look at this issue not from above or below others but on the level.

The Ninth Commandment states, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Bible is clear that lying is a sin. The 9th Commandment expands on this and forbids lying about another image-bearer. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. If I label and/or accuse entire groups of people or individuals I don’t know as racists or white supremacists, I am accusing them of ethnic hatred (dubiously called racism). Jesus places hatred on equal ground as murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15). According to God, by pronouncing sweeping judgements of ethnic hatred on the brethren, I am accusing them of MURDER.

If you don’t recognize this dangerously thin spiritual ice, you need to think again my friend.

The Sixth Commandment says, “You shall not murder.” The Bible is clear that murder is a sin. What does this have to do with woke Christians?

Let me explain. In accusing people of ethnic hatred, I am judging them to be murderers. If I accuse people of implicit ethnic hatred based on their God-given ethnicity (skin color) or some other superficial or immutable factor without actual evidence of sin as defined by the Bible, I am guilty of lying (bearing false witness) against another image-bearer. Lying about someone can be my expression of hatred toward them. Therefore, I am potentially guilty of murder because (again) Jesus places hatred and murder in the same category.

Furthermore, when a Christian uses a public forum to infer or accuse someone of sin (ethic hatred), that Christian is guilty of slander. The Bible provides a prescription for dealing with public sin (Matthew 18:15-17)… it does not include social media.

Additionally, to the extent Christians are talking behind the backs of other image-bearers and making accusations, they are guilty of gossip. Gossip destroys unity and the Church ought to have zero tolerance policy. The most insidious example I’ve seen is what I call “gossip prayer.” This is where one Christian targets another Christian within the context of group prayer in order to slander them behind their backs. In doing this, the gossiper is dragging the rest of the group into sin by disguising his/her intersession as an address to the Heavenly Father. In a real spiritual sense, the gossiper is bringing a falsehood and slander of a spiritual sibling into the heavenly realms in the name of Jesus. Lest we forget God is Holy and dangerous – it says a lot about a lot about one’s condition if he/she believes God overlook a slanderous prayer. The Bible warns against making weaker believers stumble into sin AND throwing in our lot with those who would entice us to waylay someone else (Mark 9:42, Proverbs 1:10-18)

Finally, Jesus states that the Greatest Commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38). Biblically speaking, there is NO WAY a Christian can claim to keep and follow the Greatest Commandment while breaking the 9th and 6th Commandments.

“Woke Christianity” is a religion unto itself – rooted in pride and moral arrogance. It’s completely antithetical to Biblical faith and the Gospel of the Kingdom. It draws unknowing or weak Christians into a man-centered ‘reconciliation’ and false redemptive vision (social justice).

In conclusion, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This should be a ‘shot across the bow’ of our pride – a warning to be seriously heeded.

“He (Jesus) knew that a bundle of inflamed and virulent pride might as easily be garbed in rags and tatter as in ermine robes, and that haughtiness may as often be seen in a thatched cottage as in a turreted castle… It is possible for the poor to be proud of his poverty, for the devout to be proud of his piety, for the prayerful to be proud of his supplications, for the idolater to be proud of his obeisance, for the fasting to be proud of his fasts, for the donor to be proud of his gifts, the penitent to be proud of his penitence, for the lowly to be proud of his lowliness.

“The devil did grin, for his darling sin. Is the pride that apes humanity.”” (Coleridge)
FW. Boreham (The Heavenly Octaves)

“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:5)

“And a second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Comment and share your thoughts below)

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What will 2021 be like?

What will 2021 be like?

it will not be anything like 2020

Last week I was having a casual conversation with a friend and they remarked, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over, 2021 can’t come fast enough.”

I hear that sentiment repeatedly. 2020 has been a watershed year across the world. It appears as if a shift has occurred across society and throughout culture. Let’s assess the good and bad of 2020 before diving headlong into 2021. In last week’s post, I pointed out that 2020 was “the year of fear.” Stick with me as I wade through the muck and mire of the bad news – the good news will be worth it, I promise.

The Bad News

In America, we have experienced a virus emerge from a Chinese town that engulfed the world in a pandemic. We have seen major social upheaval along ethnic, academic, corporate and political lines. We have witnessed a heated presidential election that is still being contested. We see businesses, churches and other ‘non-essential’ entities shutdown while perfectly healthy humans (including small children) are forced to wear face-masks through unconstitutional mandates – enforced by fellow volunteer citizens who revel in public ‘face-shaming’ as their civic duty. Keep in mind, the human face is the primary means through which a human being reflects the image of God. If you want to degrade, humiliate and objectify another fellow image-bearer, force them and their children to cover their faces.

We have been taught that “loving your neighbor” actually means isolating yourself from your neighbors (and family). Furthermore, you must ridicule your neighbor for not wearing a mask, not towing the party line or not bowing to the woke mob. Apparently, “loving” has been redefined to mean coercing and shaming because in the new era of ‘social justice’ virtue signaling is far more important than actual virtue.

The new scientific orthodoxy has ‘proven’ that rioting and looting are ‘COV ID-safe’ but worshiping God and singing in public are deadly – that masks and social distancing work, until they don’t – that biological sex is fluid and Jeffery Epstein really killed himself (well, the science isn’t settled on Epstein yet)… But, working a ‘non-essential’ job to put food on the table is downright criminal.

Meanwhile, statistics have shown the two of the most life-threatening places in America are nursing homes in New York and pregnant mothers’ wombs – in a nation where people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are ensconced in law and protected (unless you happen to be located in a womb in NYC, then not so much). Job numbers are down while depression, loneliness and suicides are up. Fact checkers can ‘fact check’ those facts – but facts are funning things in a world of relativism, ‘inconvenient truths’ and ‘settled science.’ And, if you don’t agree with the media narrative, you are given a heavy dose of a new drug called ‘Censorship.’ I think its imported from the CCP.

Finally, we are being reminded that God is on His throne, but you better get your COV ID vaccine just in case He isn’t. Many Christian leaders are living and preaching like nihilistic deterministic pagans with one life to live. Media propaganda echoes from many pulpits across the land as a new prophetic voice (divorced from the Bible and trafficking in falsehoods) runs off with the sexy little zeitgeist. Note bene: I said ‘many’ not ‘all’ because there remains a remnant of leaders and churches attempting to take a stand for truth and righteousness.

The Good News

(See ‘The Bad News’ section above but with a reclaimed, redeemed and restored Christian vision infused with grace).

This morning I was reading FW Boreham’s essay, “Catherine Booth’s Text” (1922). I reflected on the past year. What has carried us to the point that you are reading what I’m writing? The answer is, “GRACE!”

Catherine Booth was a spiritual titan of her time. She built her life around a single text, “My grace is sufficient for thee…” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). In his essay, Boreham beautifully describes how the realization of those six words transformed the lives and ministries of John Bunyan, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Catherine Booth, the Apostle Paul and countless others. He argues that we accept the first four words with ease – “My grace is sufficient…” but the last two are only realized in a deep moment of extreme need – “for thee.”

Boreham sharpens his point by saying, “It is always easier to believe that there is a Savior for the world than to believe that there is a Savior for me.” He continues, “Martin Luther believed and preached confidently that Christ died for all mankind, long before he could persuade himself that Christ died for Martin Luther. John Wesley crossed the Atlantic to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to the Indians; but it was not until he was verging on middle-life that he realized the possibility of the forgiveness of his own.”

Closing the chapter 2020 and opening 2021

Charles Spurgeon once said to his students, “There are many passages of Scripture which you will never understand until some trying or singular experience shall interpret them for you.”

If God’s grace was sufficient in 2020, do you believe His grace will be sufficient in 2021 and beyond? In 2020 perhaps you know and believe the first four words, “My grace is sufficient…?” Behold, the dawn of a new year is breaking before us! Just maybe in 2021, the last two words, “for thee” will with great power suddenly break upon you as they did for Bunyan and others.

What will 2021 be like?

I can say with confidence, it will not be anything like 2020. Why? Because God’s grace is sufficient for the world and you and me. Fear and despair cannot exist in the presence and fullness of God’s grace as darkness and cold cannot exist near the light and warmth of a fire.

If you go outside right now and take a several deep breaths would you fear that you would exhaust all of the oxygen in the entire atmosphere? Of course not! Then why would you believe the God who created the atmosphere and your lungs would not provide in Christ sufficient grace for you? There is to be taken a giant step from believing in the head to believing in the heart. Won’t you take it?

My Grace is Sufficient for thee… That means you and me!
I will close with some final words from dear Pastor Boreham, “For it is the glory of the grace that it takes what sadnesses there are and transmutes them into songs sublime.”

Take a few moments to ask God for His sufficient grace to walk into next year. Pray for a clear Kingdom vision, boldness and living faith that sheds the light of true hope in the world. God’s grace is sufficient for thee … for such a time as this.

By grace through faith in Christ alone.

(Comment below)

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Deposing the Tyranny of Fear

Deposing the Tyranny of Fear

2020 has been the Year of Fear

If you were to ask me how I would describe the year 2020, I will tell you plainly, “2020 has been the Year of Fear.”

I can see it in people’s behaviors, I hear fear in people’s words and I feel a spirit of fear in the air. Fear has become a currency in our culture. All media, including social media, newspapers, books and talk radio from both sides of the political spectrum fuel fear- and the government is happy to protect you from what the media tells you to be afraid of.

Fear renders humans vulnerable to manipulation and silencing – and dare I say thought control.
Fear is a tyrant!
People are flat out afraid.

If this life is all there is and this world is all there will ever be, then fear is the best idol available to most people. Unless of course, you are an oligarch or an elite, then power is your idol – and fear is the friend of those in power.

Why then are most Christians and churches responding just like those who believe this temporal world and this life is all there is? Why are Christians responding to circumstances like godless pagans who have no eternal vision of reality.

The answer is, we Christians have adopted the idols of the world and imported them into our theology. Whether we want to admit it or not, we have created idols of safety, autonomy, affluence, personal preference, comfort, politics, social issues, self, compromise, immediate gratification and list goes on. Many Christians in America have to some extent adopted a theology of “live your best life now.” I admit, I am guilty of this as well. Humans can’t live in a culture and not imbibe their culture to some degree. And since the Church long ago decided to give up on redeeming, reforming and shaping the culture in which they lived, the modern Church reflects the culture, it’s values and it’s idols. I’m afraid our forbearers would not recognize our modern form of Christianity.

Don’t believe me? Take a few moments and reflect on the last ten months. COVID, lockdowns, mask mandates, social unrest, political battles, the destruction of small businesses, and closing churches reveal things about us. When people are fearful, they will do pretty much anything to ‘feel’ safe. They will even run into a ambush or accept bondage. When the Church is fearful, the light is hidden under a basket. What happens when you hide a light? Darkness invades the room.

“When the Church is fearful, the light is hidden under a basket. What happens when you hide a light? Darkness invades the room.”

Like mushrooms on a pile of dung, fear thrives and grows in the darkness.

When will the mask mandates and lockdowns stop you ask? “When it is safe,” they say.
When will it be safe? My answer is “Never.”

Until the Church stands up to the spirit of fear, the current trend will continue.

Why? This is all rooted in basic human psychology of cost vs. reward and incentives – and human sin nature.

There is no benefit or negative consequence for those in power to stop coercing people and exercising unlawful control. Zero. In fact, there are incentives for the powerful to exert control over you and me.

The thinking Christian must recognize 99% of those in power do not share our worldview. They believe that matter, chance and power are all there is in this life. Why would elites cease trying to control people when there is no incensitve or negative consequence to cause them to? Particularly when free people acquiesce so easily when fearful. For these elites, it’s all about POWER.

Think about it. There is no incentive or risk for those in power to cease and desist mandating shutdowns of small businesses. However, there are big incentives and rewards when those in power designate massive companies like Amazon as ‘essential’ while ordering small businesses to shutdown. Why? Because small business owners are not the big donors or influencers that politicians care about. Politicians care deeply about companies like Amazon, Google, Target, Walmart, Facebook, etc. donate large sums of money and help influence political outcomes that benefit politicians. Does COVID cease to be dangerous inside a crowded Walmart vs an uncrowded mom and pop shop? Absolutely not! Tyranny is always rule by arbitrary edict.

Laws and restrictions only apply to others, not the elite ruling class. That’s why we see tyrannical governors and mayors on media ordering people stay at home, wear masks, requiring businesses shut down and churches closed one moment – then you see them out and about, dining with friends and enjoying other activities the next.  While many Americans can’t work or gather to worship God, the elite ruling class is free to live and move about however they want – without wearing a mask. It’s almost like they rub it in our faces when they ‘get caught’. That is called tyranny – and those clowns use fear to control everyone else. In addition, it’s not hypocrisy as much as it is arbitrary because there is no hypocrisy in a worldview that is rooted in matter, chance and power. Whoever has power can arbitrarily impose their will on others – hypocrisy does not exist in their worldview. This is why I tell people to replace the word ‘hypocrisy’ with ‘arbitrary’ when talking about these ideological tyrants and their arbitrary rules.

The current situation will get worse until it is disrupted and challenged.

Those in power must be forced to see their benefits and reward system is at risk. The world system has always been bent on tyranny and bondage (sin nature of man). Read your Bible and learn history. The world before Christ was a world where most of the population was in servitude or slavery. Only in the last 300 years has that changed significantly. I digress.

The Church (those redeemed by the blood of Christ) is the ONLY institution on the planet that can disrupt the trend toward tyranny. Political parties do not have the moral fortitude or mandate to achieve this. Only the Church has the theological equipment, moral conviction and spiritual power to recover, reclaim, redeem and restore that which is quickly decaying.

Consider the following…
Fear is NOT the fruit of the spirit.
Our fears reveal our idols. In other words, we fear what we worship.
This is a spiritual battle first and foremost.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well.” 1 Samuel 12:14

How then shall we (Christians) live in this historical moment?

Get ready for what is coming… Embrace the opportunity.

We must begin with prayer and repentance. Pray for renewal, obedience, courage and that God would forgive our idolatry and fearfulness. We must consider his Word and commandments with a renewed commitment to the revealed truth of the Bible and what it says about total reality. We must be prepared and ready to respond, stand our ground and resist appropriately. We must act using our prophetic voice, bearing witness to the truth, sharing the Gospel and working to redeem and restore all institutions – beginning with the church. Finally, we must trust God and leave the results to Him.

I am convinced that individual Christians and the Church need to get ready for what is coming next in America. There is a head-on collision between two completely incompatible worldviews occurring in our nation that are diametrically opposed to each other. They cannot coexist. That is impossible. They have two completely differing visions of reality and what it means to be human. We have two different constitutions and we’re two different nations.  We need to get ready for the coming conflict. Unless God intercedes, there will be violence.

The Christian must first look for peaceful alternatives. But when faced with threat, he must take a defensive posture but not a passive posture. This is why every Christian must have a sound theology of resistance – knowing which authorities we must submit to and when to righteously resist.

The church must stand up for truth, goodness and righteousness and stop cowering in fear. Or, the church will be shut down. I’ve said it before, “If we do not exercise our First Amendment rights, we will lose them.” And rightly so, as we don’t deserve good gifts that are not appreciated and used. Atrophy is the fruit of apathy and laziness.

Never Quit

On October 29, 1941 Great Britain was in the throws of war with greatest evil of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Winston Churchill addressed the boys at the Harrow School.

Churchill stated, “This is the lesson: Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Imagine being the leader of a tiny island nation as a German grey giant loomed over everything you loved, threatening your family and countrymen with total destruction and subjugation. The United States had not entered WWII yet. So, it was one man and one tiny nation staring down one of the strongest most destructive armies in history.

Say what you will about Churchill, but the man never quit. Think about the abolitionist William Wilberforce, he never quit. He fought for freedom for African slaves his entire adult life – the British slave system was abolished three days before he died. Wilberforce never quit. Think about our Savior, Jesus Christ. He came to this earth on a mission to redeem and restore sinful man and the world by dying on a cruel Roman cross. God became flesh and dwelled among us – he was born to die. The Bible says, Christ’s face was ‘set like a flint’ as he marched toward Calvary. Even death could not hold him. Jesus never quit. If our King didn’t quit, why should we?

Enough is enough. It’s time for men of faith to be called to greater faith. It’s time to stand up and prophesy against the zeitgeist. It’s time to depose the tyranny of fear.

Never Quit means that you won’t wake up one morning ten years from now wishing you had done something. Never Quit means that you won’t have to look your children and grandchildren in the eyes with shame and regret about the world they inherited. Never Quit means that church gatherings and unmasked faces will not become memories of how things once were.

Never Quit means that you will obediently take a stand and push back against the darkness. Never Quit because Christ is worth it, the church is worth it, your wife and children are worth it and your nation is worth it.

“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” – Revelation 3:1-2

Your move….

(Comment below)

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1906 - 1945

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

Over the last few months I have been diving deep into history in the area of Christian resistance to forms of tyranny. I’ve learned that we moderns don’t have a clue of how our forbearers thought and responded the world around them. They were far more sophisticated and theologically adept than we are. We believe that just because we have a vast array of technological advances and chronological distance, we’re somehow superior. We need to humble ourselves or history will do it for us.

“More often than we think, our unconscious presuppositions and unquestioned axioms influence our theology. Each of us has a set of theological, cultural, and emotional “filters” that affect our perception and interpretation of the things we see and experience. We seem to be caught in a vicious circle: our experience influences our theology, and our theology influences our experience.” – Ken Boa

This moment may be the biggest opportunity the church has experienced in 200 years. Please don’t let this moment pass because you are afraid. Remember, fear is not a fruit of the spirit. (Comment below)

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Ambling among the stars

Ambling Among the Stars

Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways…

Last weekend I spent two full days at the ranch.

My only company was Drake (our dog). It was beautiful and cold. And I was on my quest to bag one of those elusive bucks. One morning, I left the house for the deer blind two hours before sunrise. – the temperature was in the low 20’s. The sky was diaphanous and the moon was full, making her way westward. The gelid air was perfectly still. I had no need of artificial light as the celestial hosts were sufficient to illuminate my way.

A delicate dusting of ice crystals covered the landscape. The glittering frosty sheet under foot and all around shattered and reflected the bright full moon and stars above. The ground below appeared as the expanse of sky above. It was quite disorientating for a few moments as my perception of the beginning and end of earth and sky were thrown off in a dizzying display of tiny lights.

All was quiet – no breeze – no crickets – no birds or distant cows moaning. One could feel the stillness all around. The silence was only broken by my own heartbeat, my breath and the crunch of frost beneath my footsteps. I halted my progress to behold the beauty and stillness. A lone man, in a lone field, on a lone planet – under the vastness of the heavenly lights – encircled by exquisite crystals reflecting the exquisite night sky above, I stood breathless, in wonder.

In the quiet deepness of the moment bound among the delicate and the magnificent, God displayed His majesty. And I heard a still and quiet whisper, “Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways: And how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” (Job 26:14)

As I beheld God’s thundering power in frozen silence, I held a little Thanksgiving service in that field as I remembered who God is… In remembering Him, I was reminded who I am. To know Him is to see His glory in surprising ways.

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

There is nothing mundane in God’s manifold creation. One of man’s biggest failures is his love affair with Modernity. Modernity is marked by mundane flattening of all of reality with an impingement of over-skepticism. Wonder is swept away as childish when modern man twists multi-faceted creation into a one-dimensional travesty of meaningless chance and matter.

Don’t confuse ‘child-like’ wonder and awe with ‘childish’ immaturity and selfishness.
To recapture child-like wonder is not at all childish. On the contrary, wonder actually allows the imagination to experience the inner consistency of reality. The gift-nature of creation always speaks and points to something beyond itself – to the Creator God who infused everything with meaning, purpose and goodness.

Read Genesis 1 and 2. Allow the truth of God’s great story to become a growing reality in your life as you play your role in the great story.

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