This, I know, will make many fellow believers fighting mad and some likely will call me everything but a child of God.
But as I, along with millions, helplessly look on at the unfolding nightmare of COVID-19 and how at the beginning of this crisis in America, President Trump and many of his supporters blew it off as a hoax, I can't help but be sad when I think of how the church in America, once a leader in public thought and positive change has capitulated so much.
Even now a defiant Jerry Falwell, Jr. is willing to risk students and faculty next week by opening the doors of Liberty University, the conservative Christian college founded by his father, saying the COVID-19 pandemic is all a conspiracy against the president. He expresses what many Christians still unfortunately and wrongly believe.
It is unfortunate that we have developed over the years such an antagonistic relationship with the government.
“They are willing to destroy the economy just to hurt Trump,” Falwell said.
The church in America once was a beacon, a safe-haven, with many of its leaders partnering with government and community leaders to right wrongs, stand strong and help when justice and righteousness were under attack and dangerous threats threatened us.
Sadly though today, many church leaders are more concerned with getting and maintaining political clout and currying favor with Washington, DC politicians, at the expense of the reputation of the Christian church as a whole. While many churches are doing incredible work in their communities, on the whole, studies show a definite and steady decline in confidence in the Christian church and faith in general.
Equally sad is that many church leaders can't see what the rest of the world does and those doubting the authenticity of our faith. This is by no means an indictment but an observation and uncomfortable truth many know but would not dare say.
Scripture teaches us to examine ourself and while the church over the past decade has done a lot of fingerpointing, it has done little self-examination.
Even more, way too many are existing within echo chambers where the reverberation of their own words bounce off one another and where none find any fault in the other. Many live and worship in a parallel universe it seems, not engaging culture and are shocked and angry when culture comes knocking at the doors of the church.
Having said this, let's take a look at the most defining issue of the 20th century that rocked to its core, the Christian church in America - same-sex marriage.
Christianity is a religion. Christian is nothing more than a descriptive name given to first-century followers of "the Way" - followers of the radical leader from Nazareth - Jesus Christ.
We never read where Jesus refers to his followers as "Christians." The first-century believers were given that moniker. We, as Christ-followers were not intended to be "a religion." And marriage? Let's take a closer look.
God always intended marriage to be between one man and one woman. Jesus reiterated it. And full disclosure, I believe every word of the Bible to be God-breathed and true.
Having said this, it is the church, the "Christians" who are to "blame" for the convolution of marriage. Why do I say this and what do I base it on?
The instant God's people signed off on for economic reasons (namely property) a man and woman having to have a license to be "married," that put "marriage" squarely into the legal system. And marriage for all intents and purposes became a legal union and a holy one with more weight given to the legal aspect, not God's.
Marriage is a contract. A contract. God's design and intent were that marriage would be a covenant. A holy covenant between one man and one woman and the two would become one. It was intended to be under the auspices of the church and its leader.
It's why you have to go to a court of law and not a church of God to get a divorce. Only the law can dissolve a contract. And in some cases, depending upon the circumstances, even though "divorced" (i.e. the contract legally dissolved) by the court, the covenant in the eyes of God still stands. Which means, remarriage in some cases though "legal" by law is not recognized convenantly by God. But that's another blog for another day.
The church is referred to as the bride of Christ. Why? It is an illustration of the covenantal relationship between Christ and the church as God intended it to be between one man and one woman.
The church, not gay activists or President Barack Obama laid the groundwork for same-sex marriage. Decades ago when the church stood by, allowed and gave hearty approval for economic reasons, God's holy covenant to be exchanged for man's legal contract, man then got to define the terms of the contract.
So the church was left standing flat-footed on the sideline stomping its feet, huffing and puffing with no power. No power to take back what God had given it. It long ago abdicated it, and continues to abdicate it in other life and cultural issues such as immigration, healthcare and other socio-economic issues.
We have lost our voice and the voices that are speaking are so aligned politically, that it alienates so many. We are to draw people, not alienate them.
When the world exercised the right given over to it by the church, the church protested in court (the legal system) but the legal system recognized the legality of the right of two people to enter into a contract. A contract that can never escape the covenantal original intent of the Creator.
Church leaders lashed out at Obama, LGBTQ activists, flooded talk radio and Christian media with verbal protests, pointing fingers at everyone but itself. And still does.
What did it think the world, governed by the god of this world, would do but change the very intent and plan of God?
The church in America is not in trouble and increasingly a nonfactor in culture and crises because of "them" but because of "themselves." And until truth once again matters more than political clout and money, Christianity in America will continue its downward slide.
This current crisis as horrifying as it is, is both a blessing and a curse. God and church leaders are not even part of the national conversation. The medical community can only do so much but only the Word of God and the love of God are salves for hurting souls. And so many people are hurting.
The good news? We have an opportunity to begin again. A wonderful new beginning with new opportunities to be the leaders we were meant to be in the culture. Salt to help preserve the country for future generations and light in an increasingly dark world.
It's time for the church to lead. I pray we just don't focus on getting past this and miss "the this" God is revealing to us. The world needs light in darkness and is desperate for truth, love, justice, righteousness, hope and compassion.
God has hit reset. Let's run with endurance the race set before us. We can ill afford to keep dropping the baton.
Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 @ 4:50 PM CDT
The problem? For years now and today more intense than ever, way too many of us lost our identity in Christ and found our identity in our race, religiosity and political party. Oh we wouldn't admit it, we just live it. We were "'socially distanced" long before Coronavirus. Our Pastor said it better, we're not "socially distanced" just physically distanced.
Once this unprecedented crisis has passed, unless we do some serious soul searching during this unprecedented opportunity God has given us to reconnect with Him and with ourself, we will go right back out into a polarized, mean-spirited world, having learned nothing.
There has never been a time in the history of the world where every venue worldwide was shut down. For all the big talk of some to "come and take it" and looking for safety and salvation in this president, all of y'all are at home with the rest of us. Not as badass as you thought and talked. He couldn't hold back the hand of God. No man can protect "liberty and freedom." Not a criticism just an unvarnished observation.
How much liberty and freedom do you have now? You're home like everybody else. Liberty and freedom are of God and He's taken it back. Liberty and freedom aren't a birthright but a privilege and blessing of God to which no political party can lay claim and high mindedly use as a litmus test for the rest of us for love of country. Had nothing to do with country but everything to do with Christ.... the only one who died to purchase our liberty and freedom. This virus is proving false your claim to it. How free are you?
And the arrogance of religiosity. Scorched earth religion, putting up walls between fellow believers to protect "religious freedom." As they say where I come from, how bout it now?
The church, the economy, the schools, the businesses, every town, city, country and community... the world and all that's in it belong to God. And He is showing us that and if you can't see it I feel sorry for you.
As world leaders scratch their head, scrambling to shut this down and that down, it's like that old Whack A Mole game. Put down one crises another one pops up.
With the asinine quadrillion dollars of churches across America.... they have scrambled to figure out how to still hold service and with all the Christian media and radio stations and TV stations and all the big name preachers.... you would think as men and women of God they would join with one voice, put some of their millions together, get on the airwaves and consistently tell a dying and desperate world about the only God who saves. But no, they too are just figuring out a way to keep their socially distanced, separate churches going. And God is neither part of the conversation nor solution.
It really isn't about Christ, the soon and coming King and God is shouting from heaven, 'What else is it going to take?!!"
Published on Monday, March 23, 2020 @ 8:00 AM CDT
Why does God command us to pray for our leaders? Because as the head goes, so goes
the body. When we pray for our leaders, we are really praying for ourselves.
When our President or the ruler of any nation goes against the will and word of God, the whole nation suffers.
Such was the case in 2 Samuel 24. David by now was a great king, warrior and favored of God. God had given Israel peace on every hand and they had become a prosperous and strong nation.
But David as King, got full of himself and ordered a census of the people in order to show off the might and power of Israel. Bad mistake, why? Because although David was the leader of the people, the people (Israel) belonged to God and not to David.
As a leader, you can’t count and brag on what’s not yours – especially if what you’re bragging on belongs to God (and everything belongs to God).
In that day, only God could order a census to be taken of the people and only for a specific reason.
David did it to show off. As leaders, when we show off, God is obligated to show us Who is in charge. As a result of David’s pride-fueled disobedience, the whole nation suffered and 70,000 citizens perished as a result.
So why the command to pray for our leaders even though praying for them is the last thing we’d want to do?
Not so much for them, but for the ultimate well-being of us all. Pray the Lord gives them wisdom because a foolish leader will put us all in harm's way.
Published on Sunday, March 22, 2020 @ 4:59 PM CDT
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? Interesting question, but many of us, while we have heard this our whole Christian life, miss what Jesus is really telling us, not asking us.
Scripture teaches us that all that's in the world is the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. The soul.
The soul consists of our mind, our will and our emotions. Our soul is what the devil is after. How does he get it? How does he get our mind, our will and our emotions - the sum total of our soul?
Jesus tells us the answer in the question he asks. Great counselors never ask a question that they don't already know the answer. And He gives us the answer in the question.
Asked it this way, what does it profit a man (or woman) to get all the things they see, all the pleasures they desire and be so arrogant that nobody, not even God himself can tell them anything but, but lose their soul? The answer is in Jesus' question.
When we set fully our mind, will and emotions on obtaining the things of the world, be they money, material things, status, etc.the "things" we so badly want and would do whatever we need to do to get... the devil has us.
That's what Jesus is telling us. Satan is not after our body or our stuff, he is after the thing that controls and directs our body, our soul. Our mind (where lust is conceived) our will (where we act on what we have conceived) and emotions (pride).
What does it profit us to gain the whole world and lose our soul? A rhetorical question. Because once we have gained the whole world, we have already lost our soul to the devil. King's X, he wins.
The good news? With COVID-19, fewer outside distractions and for many being forced to stay home, we all have been given a wonderful opportunity to reboot and reclaim so much of what we've lost. And for some, that means even our soul.
Published on Saturday, March 21, 2020 @ 5:55 PM CDT
Many Christians serving in the political realm are oblivious to the reality that the world of politics is the devil’s domain. It was handed to him by God. Satan even reminded Jesus of this as he repeatedly tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:5-6).
In fact, Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthian church that Satan is the god (god, little g) of this world and has blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Adversary rules, but God overrules.
Given this is true, no Christian, no matter how strong in the Word we are, no matter how many times a week we attend church; and, no matter how much we love Jesus – none of us is smart enough, wise enough or experienced enough to avoid the traps of the Enemy.
Why? Because he knows us by name, even more has us pegged. While we sometimes forget, he never forgets that we are in a battle with him for our life, our way of life, our gift of life and our eternal life. He knows we're at war.
Spiritual warfare is real. Sometimes we are prone to forget this because we become way too comfortable in our roles, routines, titles and positions. This is when the Adversary positions himself for victory over us.
We forget, he never stops remembering - present-tense participle, meaning he is always in the act of remembering. We remember when we come up against something we on our own can't resolve or make sense of. Then, we remember. For some that "aha moment" comes too late. When the divorce is imminent or when the handcuffs are slapped on.
When we step into the world of politics, we step onto the devil’s territory and no one but God knows his territory better.
Satan knows what traps to set for you and for me, where to place them, with whom and when. Do you have a big ego? He has a trap for you. Proud? He has a trap for you. Low self-esteem? He has a trap for you. Overly ambitious? Eager to please? Crave power? Prestige? Money? He has a trap with your name on it. Afraid to be anything but politically correct at the expense of God’s truth? He has a trap for you. Got a lust problem? He has a man or woman waiting for you - one who will invariably wreck your career and life.
But for the Holy Spirit at work in our life, the Adversary has an irresistible trap set for you and for me. As with any enemy, our Enemy studies us. And though he doesn’t know all as God does, he was created a powerful angel by God and though fallen, he has been around since there was human life on earth. He was there in the garden with Adam and Eve, and he is where he wants to be in the course of our life and career.
We just don't know when, where or in whom he will show up. He knows every kind of human personality because he has seen them all.
He can predict with uncanny accuracy, based upon centuries of data, what you and I will do if he planted the right thought and laid the right bait. He is a master strategist and trapper. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Only God knows us better.
As a Christian in his world of politics, he has set strategic traps for you. We read about brothers and sisters getting trapped all the time. This is not happenstance, it is strategic and by design.
We can’t traverse this political territory without God. He knows where the devil has placed every trap for us and once entrapped, by His grace and mercy only He can free us.
God said His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Don’t be naïve and don’t be fooled.
You are in enemy territory and every encounter is a potential trap. Ask the Helper, the Holy Spirit to help you to know. He is the only one who can.
Avoid the devil’s traps. Pray throughout the day for protection and wisdom to spot them and avoid them. Because for sure, there is a trap somewhere, in your day, along your way with your name on it that the Adversary has designed and set ... just for you.
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper – Psalm 91:3
Published on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 @ 2:19 PM CDT