Thursday, March 31, 2016

North Carolina and March Madness


This article ran last week from the Family Research Council . . .

Yesterday, leaders in North Carolina achieved more in a day than many state leaders have been able to accomplish in years. In a single-day special session, legislators passed and the governor signed into law protections for the privacy of children and women using school and public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms in the Tar Heel state. Governor Pat McCrory (R), Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), and House Speaker Tim Moore (R) are to be commended for a day's work well done!

A month ago, the Charlotte City Council revived and passed a previously failed effort to establish special rights for people who identify as transgender. The law added "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" (SOGI) to the list of protected classes like race, national origin, and sex to the city's nondiscrimination code. The change was billed as "tolerant" and "inclusive," but as we've seen time and again it effectively opened every public bathroom, every gym shower, and every school locker room in the city to anyone, regardless of their biological sex. Despite thousands of calls, emails, and testimony from Charlotte residents -- including the Benham brothers -- who have experienced first-hand the heightened hostility and discrimination against Christians who hold to a biblical view of marriage and sexuality, the Council voted to force all businesses and places of public accommodation in city limits to recognize every person's preferred "gender identity" or face heavy fines and penalties.

This is where the Left leads us when left unchecked by common sense: The privacy of women and children must be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. This reckless abandon of common sense threatens the safety and freedoms of Americans from Seattle to Houston.

Read the entire article from Tony Perkins here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Open Letter to Trump Voters from a Super-Pac Communications Director-Turned-Defector



The following article shares insights from a former Trump insider.  She affirms many fears and concerns that  conservat

"Even Trump's most trusted advisors didn't expect him to fare this well. 

Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it. 

The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Devil Went Down to Georgia


The devil has gone to Georgia again, but this time it was in the form of Big Business and cowardly politicians. In a staggering announcement this morning, the two-term governor of the Peach State has capitulated to big business and decided to give the government a blank check to punish Georgia’s men and women of faith. Days after a watered-down religious liberty bill sailed through both houses of the legislature, Governor Deal has decided that even the flimsiest of protections for churches are too much for Georgia’s Christians. Like Hollywood and Big Business, he thinks the state should be able to dictate what people believe -- and torment those who don’t conform.

Sound familiar? It should. Any totalitarian regime operates by the same philosophy. And while the persecution takes different forms, the effect is still the same: faith-based oppression. According to Deal, a bill so weak that it wouldn’t even protect the nuns at Little Sisters of the Poor “doesn’t reflect the character of our state or the character of its people.” But apparently, open season on religious liberty does?

All this measure would have done is shield churches and a tiny sliver of faith-based groups from any penalties Georgia might dole out for their beliefs on marriage. Under the bill that Governor Deal thought was too extreme, public officials like Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis could still go to jail, Robert and Cynthia Gifford would have still lost their wedding business, and fire chiefs like Atlanta’s Kelvin Cochran could still be fired. Everyday people like Edie and David Delorme would have still been targets.

Read the entire article from Tony Perkins here.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bow Tie Buddies



I love that my ten-year old wants to dress like his Daddy. Getting out our Easter clothes yesterday he said, "I wish Belk and Kohls sold matching outfits for fathers and sons, so we we could dress alike tomorrow!" Bless my heart!

Simple Gifts


“Daddy, come outside and see my piñata,” my nine-year old exclaimed Sunday afternoon.  After a long, full morning at church on Easter Sunday we then spent several hours with my mother who was recovering from knee surgery.  Finally home, it was nice to just crash for a while.
Dawson led me outside to see his latest creation.  My creative boy had drilled holes into four of his remaining Easter eggs and strung them together with yarn. 
“Help me find a place to hang these in the woods and we can have a piñata!”
We searched together through the woods and decided upon the tree that is attached to our tree house.  After securing the yarn, we instantly had a bright and colorful yard game.  Dawson grabbed a long PVC pipe, and I snatched one of my long-sleeve shirts.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Incredible Worth of One


My article about the worth of one appeared last week at The Upper Room . . .

Jesus Christ described the incredible power of one.
 
Studying for a sermon series recently called The Power of One, the repetition in Jesus’ teachings of the word “one” amazed me.

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to ONE of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.  – Matthew 10:42

And whoever welcomes ONE such child in my name welcomes me.  – Matthew 18:5

The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for ONE of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" – Matthew 25:40

Studying Christ’s words at face-value, I see that Jesus’ perspective is different than mine. And His perspective is all that ultimately matters. 

Our world values numbers. Musicians want their albums to sell millions of copies and thus receive awards. Artists want their works to be sold to numerous people. Authors want their books to include on the cover, “More than 100,000 copies sold!” In the world of church growth, success is often measured by the quantitative amount of people: “nickels and noses.” People at times now even value their worth or impact based on how many social media friends, connections, and “likes” they receive.  

Jesus stuns me with his emphasis on one. Reward comes from welcoming one child.  Recognition begins with doing a small task for one person in Jesus’ name. Doing low-profile acts of service like visiting a sick person, spending time with a prisoner, feeding or clothing a poor person, or welcoming a stranger – rank high on the list of the King of all the earth.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Girls Bathrooms are for Girls


The following is from Tony Perkins' update yesterday about the fiasco of public restrooms and gender identity in Charlotte, NC.

Yesterday, leaders in North Carolina achieved more in a day than many state leaders have been able to accomplish in years. In a single-day special session, legislators passed and the governor signed into law protections for the privacy of children and women using school and public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms in the Tar Heel state. Governor Pat McCrory (R), Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), and House Speaker Tim Moore (R) are to be commended for a day's work well done!

A month ago, the Charlotte City Council revived and passed a previously failed effort to establish special rights for people who identify as transgender. The law added "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" (SOGI) to the list of protected classes like race, national origin, and sex to the city's nondiscrimination code. The change was billed as "tolerant" and "inclusive," but as we've seen time and again it effectively opened every public bathroom, every gym shower, and every school locker room in the city to anyone, regardless of their biological sex. Despite thousands of calls, emails, and testimony from Charlotte residents -- including the Benham brothers -- who have experienced first-hand the heightened hostility and discrimination against Christians who hold to a biblical view of marriage and sexuality, the Council voted to force all businesses and places of public accommodation in city limits to recognize every person's preferred "gender identity" or face heavy fines and penalties.

This is where the Left leads us when left unchecked by common sense: The privacy of women and children must be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. This reckless abandon of common sense threatens the safety and freedoms of Americans from Seattle to Houston.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Lunacy of our Current Foreign Policy









Seven Words of Jesus on the Cross


There are many ways to observe Good Friday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, His willing sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Some people will participate in special worship services. Some churches will host three hours of prayer and worship intended to reflect the sufferings of Jesus on the cross. Some people will fast. Others will pray through the Stations of the Cross.

Whatever you may do, consider praying through the “Seven Words” Jesus uttered during His agony. Here is a way to do that:

Read the entire article, Pray the Seven Words of Jesus from the Cross, by Bob Hostetler, here.

Hillary and Obama's Utterly Failed Foreign Policy


Hillary [Clinton] was the architect of the foreign policy of the Obama administration that has been a disaster.  It has been the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy, and every region of the world has gotten worse under their leadership.  The weakness and appeasement of this administration has led to the rise of Islaamic radical terrorists.

They {Hillary-Obama-Kerry] are so captive to political correctness.  Their plan is lunacy.  It is the product of that political correctness.

"When I am President, we will utterly destroy ISIS."   - Senator Ted Cruz


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hope for Religious Liberty


Todd Starnes of Fox News had this to say about the future of religious liberty in the USA . . .

America’s Christian bakers and florists and wedding planners will be safe under a Ted Cruz presidency.

“I am absolutely convinced in my discussions with the senator that religious liberty will be a lot better off in America with a Cruz administration,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and Chair of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council.

The council released exclusively to me its initial recommendations for both legislative and executive actions that will restore the nation’s First Freedom – the freedom of religion.

Read the entire article,  Why I Believe Ted Cruz is Religious Liberty's Only Hope, here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An Easter Lesson I Never Forgot


Holidays, particularly religious ones, carry with them a lot of memories that invoke various emotional responses.

 
Easter reminds me of decorating Easter eggs with my mother using the PAAZ egg dye kit.  I remember seeing my grandparents every Easter at their house.  We enjoyed egg hunts and Easter baskets.  I have very fond church memories from various Easters.  I received my first real Bible from my parents one Easter - a bright yellow "Good News" one, which still sits on my shelf today.  I was baptized by my pastor on Easter Sunday, 1982.  I remember big Easter musicals the weekend of Palm Sunday, singing hymns like Christ the Lord is Risen Today, and always having a new Sunday-best outfit to wear.  I especially liked a green sports coat I was given when I was in about the 5th grade.  Hamricks was usually the place to shop!  Our church had a cross outside each year, and on Easter Sunday we would all bring fresh flowers to fill it up with color!  And I recall every year ABC playing Charlton Heston's The Ten Commandments from 7pm-11pm.

My family now has some of our own holiday practices, many of them similar to those of my boyhood.  We have never done the Easter Bunny with our children.  We weren't terribly opposed to it, but church jobs always required one of us to be out of the house early Sunday morning before children awoke, so we made it our habit to give our children Easter baskets from us on the Saturday before Easter.  We chuckled then and still do now thinking about when our then 5-year old came home from church one Easter and said, The children in Sunday School were talking about some bunny coming to their house this morning!  What are they talking about?

Easter offers wonderful opportunities, whatever your practices, to talk with your children about the essence of the Christian message - that God loved a sinful world so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a forever-relationship with Him.

Don't underestimate what children can absorb.  One of the church-misnomers of our time is how we send middle and high school students to school where they learn algebra, chemistry, history, and foreign languages, yet we bring them to church and think that all we should do is play games with them thinking that they can't yet absorb the great truths of the Bible.

And don't miss opportunities with your own family members and other people in the community to share biblical truths about the gospel message. 

The church of my youth never did sunrise services, but we did do Easter musicals.  Perhaps my most vivid memory of an Easter season was when I was in the third grade.  Our church did a musical called Hosanna the weekend of Palm Sunday.  I still have the cassette tape from that performance.  My grandparents came to attend with us, and I sat directly next to my grandfather.  I will never forget that when they came to the scene where Jesus was dying on the cross, my grandfather began quietly sobbing.  Tears streamed down his face.  At that moment, in my little nine-year old thinking and feeling, I was deeply struck with the fact that this stuff is real to him.  This matters to him.  His life has been changed by the cross.  He loves and respects God.   I remember that moment like it happened last week.  And I doubt I will ever forget it. 

Don't underestimate how your faith and your love for Jesus, shown in your own unique way, can deeply impact the life of another person - even a child.  Thirty years from now they may be remembering you this Easter.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Seven Words of Jesus


Great word by Pastor Jack Hayford. I get this out every Holy Week. He shows us how what Jesus did on the cross shows us how to live through our bad days . . .


If you want to talk about having a bad day—a day of death-dealing suffering—Good Friday certainly would qualify. While the “good” in that day is related to God’s love gift of His Son, the Good Shepherd, laying down His life for the sheep, it was, nonetheless, a very bad day.

Although the dimension of Jesus’ suffering at Calvary transcends our understanding, the dynamics of what He endured are painfully appropriate to our human experience. Betrayal, injustice, brutality and loneliness are common to bad days we all have.

In studying the words spoken by Jesus on the Cross, we find companionship and direction for our own “bad days.” And so, more than a decade ago, I was prompted to write a small book about Jesus’ seven statements as an encouragement to those of us who are answering His call to discipleship and “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

7 Traits to Pray for our Next President


In just a few months, our country will once again elect the next President of the United States of America.  We live in a dangerous world, one that many of our forefathers would have never imagined.  America has veered from the roots that made her great, and this election matters.


The Bible warns that a society can exchange truth for lies.  When that happens, they become “futile in their thoughts . . . .  Professing to be wise, they [become] fools” (Romans 1:21-22).  


The prophet Isaiah warned, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (5:20).


The good news is that God has not changed.  He sits on His throne and rules over the nations of the world.  His eye is everywhere.  He is faithful, and we can rest on His faithfulness.


The book of James tells us that Elijah was a man just like us.  In evil times under corrupt political leaders, he prayed and God answered: the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16-17).


God still looks for a remnant who believe him and call on his name.


Let’s pray fervently and effectively this year for our next President, petitioning heaven for a wise, honorable Commander in Chief.  


Many times in the Bible, God’s people mix fasting – abstaining from food for a period of time – with praying.  Tough times call for tough praying.  


I challenge you to spend at least one day a month from February to November fasting and praying for our country.  Your fast may include skipping one, two, or three meals. 
Spend the time you would spend eating praying instead to a God who hears your prayers.


Here are seven traits to pray for the next President of our country:



1.  A leader who is able to lead – that means capable of leadership ability.  We need someone who knows how to lead more than how to work the crowds, be a GQ man, act cool, or win an election.  We need a leader who sees where we need to go.


2.  A leader who fears God more than man – they have a Judeo-Christian work ethic and moral code.  We need someone who understands what President John Adams understood: Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.  And Secretary of State Daniel Webster said, [T]he Christian religion – its general principles – must ever be regarded among us as the foundation of civil society. We need a leader who will stand up to the secular progressives who want to drive the Judeo-Christian value system, which made our country great, out of this nation.  Pray for a President who values religious liberty.  He or she recognizes that wisdom comes first from humbling oneself before the Lord of Creation.  That does not mean he or she has to necessarily be a strong evangelical or Catholic Christian, though that is ideal; but they understand and respect those roots. 


3.  A person of truth who tells the truth.  Many politicians today run on lies, lies, and lies.  Discernment is needed to see past the rhetoric and look at their record.  Pray for a person of truth – someone who loves the truth and stands on it.  Someone who walks in integrity and has a track record to prove it.  The word integrity means that you have the same quality on the inside that you claim on the outside.  You are the same alone as you are in front of the camera.


4.  A person who is not covetous – that means they are not hungry for power and control.  They serve other people.  Their leadership flows from a motive to serve more than building their own legacy.  They have a record of kindness, servanthood, and humility.  The people who work around them can testify of being treated honorably by this person.  They primarily build up the people around them rather than use them.



5.  A decisive leader who understands the need for a strong, effective military and police force.  The Bible says that the government is God’s agent of the sword.  That means they have the right and authority to use force to protect the nation’s people.  We face threats to our national security today not experienced since Hitler’s regime and the Cold War.  We have real enemies who want to come to our soil and butcher us.  America needs a strong military Chief who will build our military in force and morale, encourage our police force, stand up to our enemies, and make America safe.


6.  A leader who believes in American exceptionalism.  We need a leader who understands that America is unlike any nation in the history of the world.  We are a great, God-blessed nation.  We need not apologize for that.  And we need to return to the principles that made her great.


7.  A person of wisdom, discernment, and character.  He or she has a moral center.  They don’t have long trails of scandals following them.  They don't flip flop on core issues.They lead not primarily to please people but to do the right thing.  They don’t lead by opinion polls but moral character and, hopefully, spiritual fortitude.  They serve other people.  They have a history of faithfulness – moral, sexual, and fiscal. 
 
I challenge you to pray, adding fasting to your prayers, for our next leader.  Ask God to make these things true of us all.


May God bless America.

I will set this article to run at the top of the blog for most of February. 

Rejoicing Over Us


Today my devotion "Rejoicing Over Us" is featured in The Upper Room devotional guide.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Remembering Ronnie and Nancy


Thank God for the Reagans. They were the President and First Lady of my older childhood, and I remember them with much respect. Peggy Noonan, one of Reagan and Bush's speechwriters, summed up Reagan well: "when character was king." We revered them in my home growing up. People often told my mom in the 1980's that she looked like Nancy Reagan! I read Reagan's biography to my boys last year because I want them to appreciate one of the great Presidents. How badly we need more principled, God-fearing, Bible-believing, constitutionalists marked by solid, consistent, compassionate, and courageous character today.

Discernment in a Digital Culture Part Three


My article Discernment in a Digital Culture Part Three is featured today on Michelle Cox' site Just 18 Summers.   Read it here.

 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Charles Finney - The Church and Politics



The  modern era includes the fallacy that the church and pastors should stay out of and stay silent about politics.  One result of such a stance is the church's weak influence on society.  While secularists and godless men and women worked feverishly to reshape our nation (after their own lusts and idols), the church often claimed that politics was not their business.  Instead, they should only care about saving souls.

Such a stance does not reflect a biblical worldview.
 
As you pray this week, consider what Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875), famous lawyer and pastor and the father of modern revivalism, declared about the seamless relationship between the church and politics:


“The Church must take right ground in regards to politics . . . The time has come for Christians to vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics or the Lord will curse them . . .


God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to their country as a part of their duty to God . . .


God will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”

Comfort-Zone Christianity


Many pastors and church-health authors have written in recent years about the modern phenomenon in our church culture of Christians shying away from costly discipleship.  Sadly, some folks want blessing without the cost.

Henry and Melvin Blackaby share a great word in their workbook study Your Church Experiencing God Together.  

Jesus never hid the cost of being His disciple.  He made it clear that His disciple would have to deny self, take up his cross, and follow Him.

All God's people would share in the cost when any part of the body was suffering.  The cost of following Jesus would be real, personal, and at times deadly.  The cost could only be endured faithfully in the context of God's people corporately.  Unfortunately, I have found that today we intentionally avoid the cost of discipleship.

Members deliberately abandon the people of God during times of cost in order to go to another church where they can find times of blessing instead.  What a tragic misunderstanding of discipleship!  What an affront to God's great salvation that our generation can be so self-centered, forsaking God's will when the cost of discipleship gets hard.  Church hopping usually arises out of a selfish desire to be happy, when the Lord desires that His disciples be holy.  He desires for them to make a difference where He has put them and not simply go to the place where their needs are better met.

Too many people today look for shortcuts in their Christian life or substitutes for the hard, painful, and weary work of a disciple.  They want instant gratification but no cross.  They look for ease and comfort in life, but they're unwilling to count the cost of following Jesus.  If they don't receive honor, position, and recognition, they search out other churches that will grant them recognition so they can be satisfied in their Christian lives.  The thoughts of scars or wounds, like their Master's, doesn't enter their heads.

This comfort-zone mentality too often characterizes individual believers, but more tragically it reflects the same mentality in the churches.  

'Make us successful so my family and I can be happy!'

'Don't ask me to help start a mission church; it would cost our family too much!'

We can't remain comfortable and go with Christ at the same time.  There will be a cost when He leads us.


 

The LORD Over the Nations


Good reminder this morning. 

 "The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD . . . . From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind - he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance." Psalm 33:10-17

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?


Best article I've read on Trump and the evangelical church. Cal Thomas called it BRILLIANT and a MUST READ . . .


AMONG the most inexplicable developments in this bizarre political year is that Donald Trump is the candidate of choice of many evangelical Christians.


Mr. Trump won a plurality of evangelical votes in each of the last three Republican contests, in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. He won the glowing endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, who has called him “one of the greatest visionaries of our time.” Last week, Pat Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, told Mr. Trump during an interview, “You inspire us all.”


If this embrace strikes you as discordant, it should. This visionary and inspiring man humiliated his first wife by conducting a very public affair, chronically bullies and demeans people, and says he has never asked God for forgiveness. His name is emblazoned on a casino that features a strip club; he has discussed anal sex on the air with Howard Stern and, after complimenting his daughter Ivanka’s figure, pointed out that if she “weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her.” He once supported partial-birth abortion and to this day praises Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. He is a narcissist appealing to people whose faith declares that pride goes before a fall.

Read the entire article by Peter Wehner here.

Quotation of the Day




Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.  - John Piper