Holidays (Other), Politics

Revival: In America We Trust?

It’s Independence Day week here in the U.S., so, this week, we’ve been taking a look at the biblical perspective on patriotism.


Originally published October 28, 2016

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here with politics. Any politics. I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, where they stand on the issues, what they’ve done wrong, why we should vote for this one instead of that one or not vote at all, and what celebrities (and everybody else on the planet) think about them. It’s a 24/7 barrage on TV, the radio, social media, and personal conversations. Yes, these issues are important (for the love of my sanity, y’all, please don’t write me comments and e-mails arguing for your candidate or position- I agree these things are important) but I’ve reached my saturation point. It would be great if somebody would capture the Loch Ness monster or find a cure for the common cold or something just so everybody would have something else to talk about for five minutes.

In the midst of this political fervor, pastors – from those in the national spotlight to those in rural obscurity – are applying theology to the election and current culture. Some of it has been very, very good. Encouraging. Refreshingly biblical. And some of it…well, not so much.

On the “not so much” side, one of the recurring themes I’ve heard from various pulpits is the prediction or expectation that America is going to make a comeback. Brighter days are just around the corner. The cultural morality of the 1950’s might even re-emerge, and we’ll all be able to breathe a sigh of relief that evil and debauchery have left the building.

Then some pastor, somewhere, decided to co-opt the word “revival,” paste it over this concept of America getting its moral act together, and offer the whole package to American Christians as hope.

A turnaround of American culture and morality wouldn’t be a bad thing. Personally, I think it would be great if America would start behaving itself like a courteous, rational adult instead of a pagan, hedonistic teenager. We are 240 years old, after all.

But that is not revival, and it is not where our hope lies.

Let me ask you something: What if America never turns around? What if things continue to get worse, morally, economically, militarily, and culturally until this country eventually implodes into anarchy or becomes a vassal state to a godless nation?

What if God destroys America instead of making her great again? Will your faith be destroyed, too?

Sadly, for many Americans whose faith has become a syncretistic mélange of patriotism and pseudo-Christianity, the answer is yes. How many will lose heart and walk away forever when the “revival” their pastor promised fails to materialize? Uncle Sam is a cruel master and a lousy god.

Real revival is exactly the opposite. It can take place regardless of who wins the election, whether the United States is virtuous or villainous, rich or poor, enslaved or free or wiped off the face of the earth. It can take place even if you’re the only person in the world who wants it.

Biblical revival happens when Christians – thousands or dozens or one – bow the knee to Christ in repentance over their sin, forsake their worldliness, pursue holiness, act on their new-found zeal for evangelism, and live faithfully. It’s found when we stop fretting about who’s sitting in the Oval Office and start focusing on Who’s sitting on the Throne and how we might honor and please Him, regardless of what’s going on in society.

Real revival doesn’t always change the culture. Just ask Noah. Or the righteous remnant of the Old Testament exile. Or the martyrs of the early church. That’s not what it’s for. Revival isn’t supposed to change the world. It’s supposed to change your heart. It’s supposed to change your focus from temporal, elemental things to the Christ who bled and died for your sin.

That’s where our hope is found, sisters.

Not in the White House, but in Christ, regardless of who’s in the White House. Not in a moral society, but in Christ, whether society’s morals are Victorian or heathen. Not in laws and policies and freedoms that suit us, but in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ.

If Hillary wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If Donald wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If America re-emerges as that city on a hill,
our hope is in Christ.

If America runs swiftly toward her demise,
our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ, dear sisters. Let us never forsake our First Love for something as lowly as love of country, favor of the government, or an upright populace.

Our hope is in Christ.

Politics, Prayer

Throwback Thursday ~ Not Gonna Bow: 5 Reasons Prayer in School Isn’t the Magic Bullet Christians Think It Is

Originally published August 29, 2014

Prayer In School

“We need to put prayer back in school!” It’s a well worn mantra that many Christians have been shouting from pulpits, in PTA meetings, and now on social media since the early 1960’s when it was outlawed. No, we don’t need to put prayer back in public schools, and I think if Christians who think that the United States would revert to some idyllic 1950’s utopia by re-instituting classroom prayer would give it five minutes of serious thought, they would run as far as they could from the idea of prayer in public schools.

Now, just so there are no misunderstandings, when I say “prayer in public schools,” I’m not talking about things like a child saying the blessing over his own lunch, or a group of kids who want to pray together during free time, or an after school club that wants to include prayer. Those are all voluntary, private things that should, by all means, be allowed. When I say “prayer in public schools,” I’m talking about a teacher or a student or someone over the loudspeaker leading the entire class in prayer during class time. And we definitely do not want that. Why?

1. What’s good for the Christian goose is good for the Muslim/Mormon/Atheist gander.
There is no way in the current cultural climate –none whatsoever- that any court in this land will re-institute Christian prayer, and only Christian prayer, in the classroom. And even if some well meaning judge did manage to do so, his decision would be overturned faster than you could say “amen.” You want prayer in the public school classroom? You might get Christian prayer, but you’re also going to get Muslim prayer, Mormon prayer, atheist prayer, Hindu prayer, Satanist prayer, and any other sect that comes along and wants to do prayer in the classroom. Do you really want your six year old faced with the choice of participating in a Satanic prayer or trying to get permission to abstain? Neither do I.

2. Why is it so important that we have prayer in schools?
Assuming you don’t work at a church or ministry, does your workplace gather all the employees at the beginning of the day and start with prayer? No? Has that been deeply detrimental to you personally or to your workplace? No? Then why is it so important that schools have prayer?

3. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
This nifty little Latin phrase means “after this, therefore, because of this.” It refers to the faulty reasoning people sometimes use by assuming that because two events occurred near the same time or seem to be related, one of them must have caused the other.

Time and time again, I have heard Christians bemoan the moral state of this country and wail, “It all started when they took prayer out of schools!”

Post hoc ergo poppycock

If the moral state of this country was so perfect before 1962, then how in the world did prayer ever get taken out of schools in the first place? No, things started going downhill in this country long before prayer was removed from schools. It was as a result of that moral decay that prayer was taken out of schools.

Saying that the removal of prayer from public schools created the mess our country is in today would be like someone sixty years from now saying, “When the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, that’s when things started going bad for America.”

Because things are just so morally peachy right now.

4. It isn’t biblical.
It is not the job of a secular governmental institution or employee to monitor or lead our children in prayer, and no one could make the case from God’s word that it is. Scripture tells us that leading in prayer is the job of Christian parents and the church.

Neither would it be biblical for the sake of unsaved children in your child’s class that you’re hoping will somehow get saved by someone leading a prayer every morning. That’s not how people get saved. If you’re concerned about lost children, teach your child how to share the gospel. Befriend the children’s parents and share the gospel with the parents yourself. It’s free, it can be done immediately, without waiting for court decisions (that won’t be coming anyway) and it’s biblical.

5. It’s hypocritical.
It is often Christians who exclaim the loudest, and rightly so, that the government should back off and stop trying to control, regulate, and meddle in every square inch of our lives. Yet with regard to prayer in schools, Christians talk out of the other side of their mouths and practically beg the government to insinuate itself into an issue it has no business touching. (Not to mention that the government does such a bang up job of handling things like this.)

Will those very Christians complain if the government re-institutes prayer and then tries to regulate it just like they do everything else? And what about depending on the government for a handout of prayer when we are the ones who should be doing the work of teaching prayer and sharing the gospel? Isn’t that a sort of prayer “welfare” system? Putting prayer back in public schools would be a nightmare of false religions and government regulations.

We don’t need prayer in schools. We need prayer in homes and in churches. We need people sharing the gospel with their friends, fellow students, neighbors, and co-workers. We need Christians to be the salt and light Jesus called us to be in the world we actually live in rather than pining away for an imaginary ideal that will never come to fruition.


¹I only wish I were clever enough to have come up with this. Kudos to CHRIS ROSEBROUGH’S wife who coined the Phrase.
Holidays (Other), Politics

Revival: In America We Trust?

(If you’re participating in the 1&2 Timothy study,
lesson 11 is coming your way on Friday.)

Originally published October 28, 2016

revival-america-trustI don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here with politics. Any politics. I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, where they stand on the issues, what they’ve done wrong, why we should vote for this one instead of that one or not vote at all, and what celebrities (and everybody else on the planet) think about them. It’s a 24/7 barrage on TV, the radio, social media, and personal conversations. Yes, these issues are important (for the love of my sanity, y’all, please don’t write me comments and e-mails arguing for your candidate or position- I agree these things are important) but I’ve reached my saturation point. It would be great if somebody would capture the Loch Ness monster or find a cure for the common cold or something just so everybody would have something else to talk about for five minutes.

In the midst of this political fervor, pastors – from those in the national spotlight to those in rural obscurity – are applying theology to the election and current culture. Some of it has been very, very good. Encouraging. Refreshingly biblical. And some of it…well, not so much.

On the “not so much” side, one of the recurring themes I’ve heard from various pulpits is the prediction or expectation that America is going to make a comeback. Brighter days are just around the corner. The cultural morality of the 1950’s might even re-emerge, and we’ll all be able to breathe a sigh of relief that evil and debauchery have left the building.

Then some pastor, somewhere, decided to co-opt the word “revival,” paste it over this concept of America getting its moral act together, and offer the whole package to American Christians as hope.

A turnaround of American culture and morality wouldn’t be a bad thing. Personally, I think it would be great if America would start behaving itself like a courteous, rational adult instead of a pagan, hedonistic teenager. We are 240 years old, after all.

But that is not revival, and it is not where our hope lies.

Let me ask you something: What if America never turns around? What if things continue to get worse, morally, economically, militarily, and culturally until this country eventually implodes into anarchy or becomes a vassal state to a godless nation?

What if God destroys America instead of making her great again? Will your faith be destroyed, too?

Sadly, for many Americans whose faith has become a syncretistic mélange of patriotism and pseudo-Christianity, the answer is yes. How many will lose heart and walk away forever when the “revival” their pastor promised fails to materialize? Uncle Sam is a cruel master and a lousy god.

Real revival is exactly the opposite. It can take place regardless of who wins the election, whether the United States is virtuous or villainous, rich or poor, enslaved or free or wiped off the face of the earth. It can take place even if you’re the only person in the world who wants it.

Biblical revival happens when Christians – thousands or dozens or one – bow the knee to Christ in repentance over their sin, forsake their worldliness, pursue holiness, act on their new-found zeal for evangelism, and live faithfully. It’s found when we stop fretting about who’s sitting in the Oval Office and start focusing on Who’s sitting on the Throne and how we might honor and please Him, regardless of what’s going on in society.

Real revival doesn’t always change the culture. Just ask Noah. Or the righteous remnant of the Old Testament exile. Or the martyrs of the early church. That’s not what it’s for. Revival isn’t supposed to change the world. It’s supposed to change your heart. It’s supposed to change your focus from temporal, elemental things to the Christ who bled and died for your sin.

That’s where our hope is found, sisters.

Not in the White House, but in Christ, regardless of who’s in the White House. Not in a moral society, but in Christ, whether society’s morals are Victorian or heathen. Not in laws and policies and freedoms that suit us, but in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ.

If Hillary wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If Donald wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If America re-emerges as that city on a hill,
our hope is in Christ.

If America runs swiftly toward her demise,
our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ, dear sisters. Let us never forsake our First Love for something as lowly as love of country, favor of the government, or an upright populace.

Our hope is in Christ.

Politics, Prayer

Throwback Thursday ~ 7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration

Originally published January 20, 2017

7-pray-trump

Whether you love it or hate it…

Whether you voted for him or not…

The reality is that Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States today. The election has come and gone. Our part is over.

Or is it?

A lot of people – both those who voted for him and who voted against him – have a lot of concerns about the things Donald Trump might do or say (or Tweet) as President and about the trajectory of the nation over the next four years. Of equal or more concern are some of the actions his opponents have threatened. But does God want Christians sitting around wringing our hands in worry for the duration of the Trump administration?

Nope.

God has told us exactly what He wants us to do with regard to the rulers He has installed in authority over us.

Step 1:

romans-13-1-2

God wants us to remember that He is the one who places leaders in their positions, and we are to trust His decisions and respect and obey our leaders (unless they command us to do or not do something that conflicts with God’s word – we always submit to God and His word first).

What if the leader is immoral or ungodly? Well consider that when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen these words, Paul was living under the rule of Nero, and I think you’ll have your answer. In so far as we are biblically able, Christians are to obey those in authority over us.

Step 2:

1-ti-2-1-2

God wants us to pray for all people, but He draws our focus to praying for “kings and all who are in high positions.” Why?

  • “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
    Consider the persecution the first century (and every subsequent century to the present day) church faced: Christians fed to lions, immolated, beheaded, quartered, family members tortured, and more. We’re to ask God for the government to allow us to quietly live in peace and pursue godliness.
  • “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” 1 Timothy 2:3 goes on to say. It is good for us to pray for our leaders simply because it is pleasing to God. When you get right down to it, do we really need any other reason to obey God?
  • Because God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” says 1 Timothy 2:4. Even though God doesn’t have to give us a reason to obey Him about praying for our leaders, He chooses to reveal something to us about His nature and character by explaining why He wants us to do so. God’s heart is for all people to know Christ as Savior – including our rulers. God wants to save them because He loves them as individuals made in His image, but He also wants to save them so they will be godly rulers and – bringing us full circle to 1 Timothy 2:2 – so that God’s people will be able to lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

So now that we know that God wants us to pray for our President and others “who are in high positions,” and why God wants us to pray for them, what are some of the things we can pray for during the Trump administration?

1. Pray for God to save our unsaved leaders

Lip service to God does not a regenerated believer make. Many people claim to be Christians yet have never repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ. The Bible is clear that those who consistently live in unrepentant sin are not saved. Don’t listen so much to what our leaders say about God, rather watch what they do. If he walks like a heathen and quacks like a heathen, pray for God to save him.

2. Pray for the daily walk of our saved leaders

Can you imagine how hard it must be to live a godly life as one of the few Christians in the political arena? For our leaders who not only talk the talk but are striving to walk the walk, pray that God will give them ample time in His word, in prayer, and in church. Pray that He will enable them to resist temptation to sin. Pray that they will walk uprightly in their day to day lives. Pray that they will seek to honor God in their work and decisions. Pray that God will give them boldness and open doors to share the gospel with others.

3. Pray that God will move all of our leaders to make right decisions

Even if they make those right decisions for the wrong reasons. Even if they meant their decisions for evil. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lordhe turns it wherever he will.” Pray that God will turn our leaders’ hearts to make right decisions.

4. Pray against governmental intrusion and persecution in the lives of Christians

Unfortunately, over the past several years we’ve seen the beginnings of persecution against Christians in the U.S. Christians have been fired and lost their businesses for refusing to provide services for homosexual weddings. Christians are having to comply with government mandates regarding transgender issues and abortion. The government has interfered with private parenting decisions made by Christians. Pray that God would move our leaders to back off and allow Christians to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

5. Pray for the church

It’s very likely that we are in the last days of freedom of religion in the United States. Pray that God would continue to bless the church with that constitutional right. And while we still have it, pray that pastors would boldly preach Christ and Him crucified. Pray that Christians would faithfully love, serve, and attend their churches every week. Pray that the church would properly disciple Christians to live as lights for Christ in the world. Pray that we would send out unprecedented numbers of missionaries. Pray that we will work the works of Him who sent us while it is day; for night is coming, when no one can work.

6. Pray that Christians will share the gospel

This country will not be changed by leaders and legislation. It will only be changed by the Lord. The United States will only become a godly nation if the majority of the people of this nation have had their hearts changed by the gospel. Pray (again, while we are still free to do so) that God will light a fire under those of us who know Him to unabashedly share the gospel everywhere we go, with everyone we meet.

7. Pray that God would protect this nation

From our enemies and from ourselves.

Take some time to pray for our leaders and our country
today and every day.

If you’d like, add your prayer below in the comments.

Politics

Throwback Thursday ~ Revival: In America We Trust?

Originally published October 28, 2016

revival-america-trustI don’t know about you, but I’ve had it up to here with politics. Any politics. I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, where they stand on the issues, what they’ve done wrong, why we should vote for this one instead of that one or not vote at all, and what celebrities (and everybody else on the planet) think about them. It’s a 24/7 barrage on TV, the radio, social media, and personal conversations. Yes, these issues are important (for the love of my sanity, y’all, please don’t write me comments and e-mails arguing for your candidate or position- I agree these things are important) but I’ve reached my saturation point. It would be great if somebody would capture the Loch Ness monster or find a cure for the common cold or something just so everybody would have something else to talk about for five minutes.

In the midst of this political fervor, pastors – from those in the national spotlight to those in rural obscurity – are applying theology to the election and current culture. Some of it has been very, very good. Encouraging. Refreshingly biblical. And some of it…well, not so much.

On the “not so much” side, one of the recurring themes I’ve heard from various pulpits is the prediction or expectation that America is going to make a comeback. Brighter days are just around the corner. The cultural morality of the 1950’s might even re-emerge, and we’ll all be able to breathe a sigh of relief that evil and debauchery have left the building.

Then some pastor, somewhere, decided to co-opt the word “revival,” paste it over this concept of America getting its moral act together, and offer the whole package to American Christians as hope.

A turnaround of American culture and morality wouldn’t be a bad thing. Personally, I think it would be great if America would start behaving itself like a courteous, rational adult instead of a pagan, hedonistic teenager. We are 240 years old, after all.

But that is not revival, and it is not where our hope lies.

Let me ask you something: What if America never turns around? What if things continue to get worse, morally, economically, militarily, and culturally until this country eventually implodes into anarchy or becomes a vassal state to a godless nation?

What if God destroys America instead of making her great again? Will your faith be destroyed, too?

Sadly, for many Americans whose faith has become a syncretistic mélange of patriotism and pseudo-Christianity, the answer is yes. How many will lose heart and walk away forever when the “revival” their pastor promised fails to materialize? Uncle Sam is a cruel master and a lousy god.

Real revival is exactly the opposite. It can take place regardless of who wins the election, whether the United States is virtuous or villainous, rich or poor, enslaved or free or wiped off the face of the earth. It can take place even if you’re the only person in the world who wants it.

Biblical revival happens when Christians – thousands or dozens or one – bow the knee to Christ in repentance over their sin, forsake their worldliness, pursue holiness, act on their new-found zeal for evangelism, and live faithfully. It’s found when we stop fretting about who’s sitting in the Oval Office and start focusing on Who’s sitting on the Throne and how we might honor and please Him, regardless of what’s going on in society.

Real revival doesn’t always change the culture. Just ask Noah. Or the righteous remnant of the Old Testament exile. Or the martyrs of the early church. That’s not what it’s for. Revival isn’t supposed to change the world. It’s supposed to change your heart. It’s supposed to change your focus from temporal, elemental things to the Christ who bled and died for your sin.

That’s where our hope is found, sisters.

Not in the White House, but in Christ, regardless of who’s in the White House. Not in a moral society, but in Christ, whether society’s morals are Victorian or heathen. Not in laws and policies and freedoms that suit us, but in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ.

If Hillary wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If Donald wins,
our hope is in Christ.

If America re-emerges as that city on a hill,
our hope is in Christ.

If America runs swiftly toward her demise,
our hope is in Christ.

Our hope is in Christ, dear sisters. Let us never forsake our First Love for something as lowly as love of country, favor of the government, or an upright populace.

Our hope is in Christ.