What I Learned This Year (but I could be wrong)

Image result for what i learned today People should probably applaud me for having posted virtually nothing during this whole election year.  There was so much I wanted to say, but knew it just wouldn’t be helpful.  This blog was never intended to be politically focused, though anyone who tells you that a Christian needs to keep faith and politics separate is only out to keep you silent.  There is no aspect of your life that God should not touch. 

Before I go much further I want to make two things very clear —

First, I believe that deeply faithful followers of Jesus Christ have made choices in their votes that they profoundly believed ware the only choice they could make considering the alternative.

Secondly, I did vote in this past election.  I did not vote for either of the top Presidential candidates.  I wrote in a vote.  And the reason I did not choose either of these candidates is the reason for this posting.  I realize many will disagree with me, but I this is MY deeply held belief and I wish to share it.  Image result for vote As a Christian there was no way I would vote for Mrs. Clinton or any other democrat candidate for that matter.  I would have to compromise my faith to vote for a party who’s platform supports abortion on demand, helps to promote the gay agenda, seeks to squash faith in the public square, suppresses free speech when it doesn’t agree, and believes its absolutely just to take the wealth earned by others and give it to those who have less even though it does not raise the standard of living for those on the receiving end. One cannot force another to “give” – giving is a matter of the heart.

However, as a Christian, there was no way I could vote for Mr. Trump either.  Though I may agree with SOME of his political platforms, his moral character leads me to believe he is a man who will do and say whatever he must to achieve his objective.  While he may fulfill many of his campaign promises I’m sure his supporters will be equally as disappointed in the ones he changes his mind on.  While that’s par for the course for most politicians, it was his history of name calling, bragging about his sexual exploits, that he did not believe that he had done anything to ask for forgiveness for, and that he has held opposing opinions on fundamental things like abortion and personal property rights that were the proverbial “nails in the coffin” for me.  As much as I opposed Mrs. Clinton, I could not hold my nose and pull the lever for Mr. Trump either.

But this is not even a blog about the candidateImage result for the lesser of two evilss per se.  It’s about the response of many Christians to the choices they were presented with.  It was the astounding willingness to accept the “lesser of two evils” as a viable choice.  Conservative Christians were in a panic over the thought that the election of a democrat for four more years could mean the economic collapse of the nation and the loss of liberties for those who hold to the sanctity and reliability of Scripture.

Let me insert here that I love my country. I served in the US Army in West Berlin, West Germany during the Cold War.  I was there when there was still a Wall.  I have seen first hand what a socialist society looks like.  Barb wire did not surround West Berlin to keep West Berliners out of East Germany, but to keep East Germans from escaping into West Berlin.  Governments who serve and protect their people do not need to worry that their citizens should want to flee.

Duty in West Berlin was considered hazardous because it was understood that, should the Russians begin an assault on the NATO countries there would have been no way for the men and women serving in this sector of the world to be evacuated to safety in West Germany.  We would have been lucky to get the civilian dependents out of harms way.  So we were very aware that our fate was to die or be captured.  It was not a thrilling prospect, but we knew our mission was important to the ultimate safety and security of our Nation.

Having said that, while I love my country, my ultimate allegiance is to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  When the good of the country comes into conflict with the standards and teachings of my Christian faith, as laid out in Scripture, then I must acquiesce to Scripture.  My Home is not here.  My confidence is not in either political party.  My ultimate freedom is in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether my country allows me to exercise personal freedom.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 says, “What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.  From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.  For this world in its present form is passing away.” (NIV)

1 John 2:15-17 also states, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (NIV)

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I believe in the sovereignty of God.  I believe He sets those in power whom He chooses according to His purposes; whether for good or ill.  But my concern should not be whether I make sure God is able to get the right person into power by use of my vote, but whether I am living my life and exercising my rights as an American in a way that glorifies Him.

Pastor John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, stated it much more eloquently, and I believe prophetically, than I ever could.  He said, “We vote, if we vote, because the Lord of our homeland commissions us to vote.  And He does not absolutize this act above all other considerations of Christian witness.  In this election, with the flagrant wickedness of both party candidates the logic that moves from ‘Be subject, for the Lord’s sake, to every human institution’ to the binding obligation always to vote is blind to three things.
Number one, that logic is blind to the radical meaning of ‘for the Lord’s sake.’ and how it relativizes all human authority and brings to bear many, many other considerations.
Number two, the radical freedom of the children of God from inherent authority of human processes and governments and institutions.
And number three, it is blind to the aim of every citizen of Heaven, in all their human engagements, to display our allegiance to the values of another world.”

Conservative Christians had every right to “fear” the possibility of a Clinton win and what that would mean to their right to openly practice their faith.  There was every reason to be concerned about further progressive policies and the already teetering state of the American economy.  The rights of Christian businessmen and women to exercise their faith in the way they operate their business was certainly in peril.   Had Mrs. Clinton won the election certainly every American would continue to be economically involved in the inhumane slaughter of the unborn in the womb.

There is no doubt that had Mrs. Clinton won that pressure would have been placed on those churches who hold to the inerrancy of scripture and consider homosexuality to be a sin to either keep silent from the pulpit on such matters or lose their 501c3 status.  Eventually, the Justice Department would have pursued charges against those pastors, teachers, and religious organizations who spoke out against the practices of the LGBTQ community for hate crimes.

Christian faith would have been pushed further and further out of the public square to the point of near invisibility.  That is a near certainty.

These were valid concerns.  These were my concerns as well.

What I learned this year is how painful and wrenching it is to make a stand knowing that it could result in all the things you fear coming to pass.  What I learned is that when you stand on the principles you say you espouse in every other aspect of your life, that even those you believed held the same principles will at times decry you because “there’s too much at stake”.   What I learned is that the Church in America needs to reexamine it’s understanding of the sovereignty of God and our role as “salt and light”.  What I learned is that Christians don’t see the “lesser” of two evils as still being an evil.

I was astounded by how many in the clergy stood up to say that they had to look past all the “flaws” of the Republican candidate because the alternative was too horrible to contemplate.  No candidate is perfect.  No candidate is completely moral.  Our nature is a fallen one and I certainly recognize that fact.  But the tastelessly conspicuous and even egocentric glee of Mr. Trump towards is moral failures was beyond the pale.  While President Bill Clinton’s contriteness for his moral failures during the Monica Lewinsky scandal may have been manufactured, Mr. Trump proudly asserted he had never done anything for which to ask God’s forgiveness.  

Neither candidate was ethically suited to take the oath of office of the Presidency.  While the is no Scriptual obligation for the Church to endorse a candidate during election years, it should always be firm and public in its stance on issues of personal morality, including that of candidates for public office.  Instead, the Church became split on the subject.  It was okay for Conservative Christians to question and bemoan the morality of those on the left, but one was being asked to not look so closely at the foibles of the Republican candidate.  It was more important, in the opinion of some, to win the election rather than stand on conscience.

The unspoken statement among some seem to be, “we

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have to help God put the right person in the Oval Office.  Otherwise He won’t be able to fulfill His purposes for this country or the World.”   In the western hemisphere we seem to have come to the opinion that without the United States as the Super Power in the world the gospel will not be spread to all nations, Christianity will become a minor religion, and the whole earth will be in desperate danger of moral collapse.

For 8 years Christians have been saying, “if we don’t stop this collapse in the morality of the American culture we will face the judgement of God.”  With the election of President Trump they are now saying, “Look, God has given us a second chance.”

I don’t believe that’s what has happened at all.  I think, in fact, that what God has said is, “I gave you the chance to nominate a candidate with a strong moral foundation and instead you nominated a man of more than questionable character.  I then gave you an opportunity to be salt and light and to tell the culture ‘even though we know this could mean the loss of our freedom as Christians we will trust in the Sovereignty of our God, knowing He will always do what is best for us, and say that we cannot and will not support a man who brags about his sexual promiscuity, who does not bend his knee to God, and who belittles and denigrates those who oppose him.’  Instead, not only have you rallied behind him, but some of you have joined in the denigration of those did take a stand in opposition, while others have you chosen to simply stay silent.”

While we may have several years where we see a renewal of the Super Power status of America, a strengthening of the economy, and perhaps even a revival in the Churches, I strongly believe that God has allowed us to set our course.  Ultimately we will be called to account; not because of Trump himself, but because the fate of the country was more important that the righteousness of God.  Because winning the White House was of greater worth than being a light in the darkness.  Because we did not trust that no matter what trials we must endure from our government that God is still in control and He will always do what is for our good and for His glory.  We instead settled for “the lesser of two evils” in hopes that everything will be okay, at least for a little while longer.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

I don’t believe that God is surprised by the outcome of this election.  And I do believe that Donald Trump will take the oath of office next month, because that is according to His plan. (“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.  He changes times and season; He sets up kings and deposes them.  He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:20-21)  But God also uses those plans to allow us to make greater spiritual decisions.  And there are consequences to those decisions.

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But…I could be wrong.



not_with_a_bang__but_a_whimper_by_nu_cross_d3bhzsm_answer_2_xlarge     I was on my way home this evening, listening to the local radio station, when the Casting Crowns’ song “Thrive” came on.   As I listened to the chorus I thought to myself, “Yeah, that’s what we sing out loud, but inside we’re actually saying, ‘We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives.  But just for now we’re glad to just survive.  We’ll wait for Heaven to thrive.'” I follow a blog called “Fire Breathing Christian”.  While I don’t agree with everything he says (he seems to have a bent towards Dominion Theology — the teaching that Church will grow and grow and overcome the powers of darkness here on earth and take dominion.  Then Christ will return.), but he’s been talking recently about how the Church in America has wimped out on the Great Commission.  We seem to limit it to just missions and we don’t realize that we are supposed to have an impact on not just “foreign fields”, but we should be fighting for our own culture as well; the arts, entertainment, politics, social welfare, etc… In my last posting I know I sounded like I was just throwing up my hands and saying, “There is no hope.  We’re doomed.”  And, if you look at the parallels between the United States today and the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago then, yeah…it doesn’t look good for us. But the song on the radio just jarred something in my brain.  We don’t have to be like that!  We don’t have to fade into the annals of history for generations to come to read about and say, “Wow, wish I’d been there.”  In fact, I think we’re going to have a LOT to answer for if we do. I’ve heard that the Church in China is actually praying for the collapse of the United States and the persecution of Christians.  NOT because they think we deserve to suffer because they’ve had to.  No!  They are hoping that maybe that is what it will take to get us to get out of our Western Religious stupor and stand up and say, “We’re mad at Hell and we’re NOT gonna take it anymore!”  That we’ll stand up to our culture and say, “Not one more inch!  You will not force us to stay silent!  We will stand on the truth of the Word of God and we will NOT back down and kowtow to your political correctness!  We will not sit in front of your electronic Colosseums and watch you destroy our children with the crap you broadcast!  We will not attend your endless of orgies of ‘do whatever is right for you — your truth is your truth’ and applaud the ‘bravery’ of ‘Doogie’ and Ellen and Whoopi!  We will bow to the false gods of Rob Bell and Oprah and Universalism!  Your Caesars will not legislate us into accepting sin and removing us from the Public Square!  Your Siren’s songs by Beyonce and Jay-Z and their ilk, who encourage our kids to dishonor their own bodies and kill cops and treat each other like objects rather than human beings will be called out for what they are…garbage!  We don’t demand you believe what we do, but we will not let you be the only voice!  And, the firmer we stand the quieter your voice will become!” There are millions of Christians in the world living under oppression and poverty and the threat of death!  How dare we, here in America — the freest, most prosperous country in the world — cower in our closets with our copies of “Left Behind” just praying the Jesus returns soon to take us out of this horribly corrupt world!  How dare we wring our hands and say, “There’s nothing we can do!  ‘Be in the world not of the world.’  You can’t show the love and power of Christ in politics or in the work place or in Hollywood.  You can only do small things!'” There is a whole world out there depending on us to stand up, even if it is just one last time, and live out the Great Commission.  The Apostles didn’t stay in their churches and just let the world go on it’s merry way!  They stood before the Religious and Political and Cultural establishment and said, “There is only ONE Way, ONE Truth, and ONE Life and NO ONE comes to the Father but through Him.”  They risked ridicule and beatings and the loss of everything, including their lives, to fulfill their calling. The early Christians did the same thing!  What makes us think we can do any less?  This country may be heading for disaster, but will we give up in silence or go down swinging?  When Christ returns for His Church will it a noticeable loss or great relief to the rest of the world?  This world may be fading away, but will pass with a whimper or go out with a bang? It’s time to get off our collective duffs Church in America and start living more than ordinary lives!  It’s time to Stand and to Thrive!

Same Lie, Different Day

ImageI’m listening to Eric Metaxas book “Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” on audiobook at work.  I find, nowadays, that it’s easier for me to do audiobooks than to actually sit down and read; namely because my vision is not that good, but also because I don’t have the patience to just sit down, in silence, and do it.  But that’s not the point of this posting.
I’m totally captivated by this book.  I’m a bit of a WWII geek — in part from my time in the Army and stationed in West Berlin during the Cold War — and find this era in history totally fascinating.  But it is the person of Bonhoeffer that is even more compelling.  He’s a man of passion for the Word of God; not merely a religious man or a theological man.  He is a man who increasingly realizes that “the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we need only to ask repeatedly and a little humbly, in order to receive this answer. One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself. Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it. That is because in the bible God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one’s own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us.”
In the years before and at the onset of the rise of the Third Reich the Church, not only in Germany, but in America as well, had increasingly become more of a caricature of what Christ had established.  In Germany, people devastated by the loss of WWI, the ensuing punishing Armistice, economic collapse, the crippling Weimar Republic, and being fed a consistent diet of anti-Semitic and Aryan propoganda welcomed a different religious movement, Deutsche Christen.  Within the Protestant church this movement was encouraged by the de-emphasis of the Old Testament and the removal of doctrines and verses within the New Testament that were deemed “too Jewish”. 
Correspondingly, Bonhoeffer remarked about the church in America, after spending several years in New York City as visiting fellow at Union Theological Seminary: “In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ…. So what stands in place of the Christian message? An ethical and social idealism borne by a faith in progress that – who knows how? – claims the right to call itself ‘Christian’. And in the place of the church as the congregation of believers in Christ there stands the church as a social corporation. Anyone who has seen the weekly program of one of the large New York churches, with their daily, indeed almost hourly events, teas, lectures, concerts, charity events, opportunities for sports, games, bowling, dancing for every age group, anyone who has become acquainted with the embarrassing nervousness with which the pastor lobbies for membership – that person can well assess the character of such a church…. In order to balance out the feeling of inner emptiness that arises now and then (and partly also to refill the church’s treasury), some congregations will if possible engage an evangelist for a ‘revival’ once a year.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Barcelona, Berlin, New York [1928-1931])
The pure Gospel was ridiculed — in Germany as too Jewish, in America as too restrictive.  In other words, people sought a gospel more suitable to their ideologies.  By twisting, eliminating and ignoring scripture both sides of the ocean were able to create gods after their own image and likeness.
The oldest deception of Satan is simply this, “Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1).
It is both unsurprising and disheartening that we, still to this day, fall for that same deception.  In an attempt to make the Gospel more “palatable” to the rest of society or alleviate ourselves of guilt, we de-emphasize and eliminate and reinterpret scripture to a point where it is barely recognizable.  In order to make our pursuits, our desires more biblically congruous we play the “Did God really say” game.

It almost seems that if we repeat the argument long enough we believe God Himself will begin to wonder “hmm, did I really say that?”
Or perhaps the idea is, if we can get enough people to agree with our particular interpretation of scripture we can say to God, “Majority rules.  You’re just going to have to accommodate our way of thinking.”

Bonhoeffer stood on the purity and sufficiency of Scripture and confronted the Church in Germany at a time when it would have been easier to remain silent and let the chips fall where they may.  But he knew that to do so would be the same as denying what he knew to be true.  It led him to take a stance against the Reich itself and eventually cost him his life.
Today in America our responsibility is the same; whether it’s against the same old liberal theology that Bonhoeffer commented on 75 years ago or the individual deception of a fellow believer.  We may not face imprisonment or torture (as of yet) to do so, but it just as easy to remain silent and let the chips fall where they may.  However, if we fail to do so now, when it’s easy, it is unlikely we will be so bold to do it when it will really cost us.