Around the world, Giving Tuesday (November 28, 2017) is the day set aside to focus on charitable giving. It is the day that we make a concerted effort to remember the less fortunate, and donate to non-profits like churches and charities that do much to help the poor. It is the day, in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, that we stop to recognize that the season is not just about giving presents and hanging out with friends, but it is about reaching out to the less fortunate, and sharing with them from the bounty that God has abundantly bestowed upon us.
There are a lot of great organizations that do a lot of fantastic work for the poor and needy around the world. One such organization is the church I have pastored for nearly 40 years, Abba’s House. From medical missions in Guatemala, to feeding children at the Abba’s House Children’s Center in the Dominican Republic, to ministering to native Americans on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, to feeding the homeless in Chattanooga, Abba’s House does all of this and much more to minister the love of Jesus by being His hands and feet to those less fortunate.
On thisGiving Tuesday, if you are looking for a place to make a donation that will make a difference in the life of another, I would encourage and ask you to give generously and joyfully to the work of Abba’s House. Here’s a #GivingTuesday link to get started.
“But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” ~ from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
~ Marcus Aurelius
On April 24, 2015, Hillary Clinton gave her first speech as a presidential candidate for the 2016 election. She made it clear that, if elected president of the United States, she will push for legislation providing unlimited access to abortion. Her remarks were made at the sixth annual Women in the World Summit, a feminist group that shoulders the pro-abortion agenda.
While her progressive viewpoints were not surprising, during the course of her speech she made a statement that caused me to sit up and take notice.
As she continued to rally the crowd, Ms. Clinton said, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed for the sake of giving ‘access’ to women for ‘reproductive health care.’” The comment was a shot across the bow at pro-life advocates and countries with pro-life laws.1
Keep in mind, the stated goal of the socialist/progressive movement is to fundamentally transform America. In order to do that, according to Ms. Clinton, “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” So what was she really saying? In order to reshape America, certain “old fashioned” views and other long held beliefs and traditions must be removed.
The real question is this: Is mainstream media a sympathetic “co-conspirator” in promoting and propagating the progressive agenda? To answer that question, you have to ask a second question: Is mainstream media biased against those who hold a strong conservative belief system? Is America receiving a subtle, subversive push toward a progressive agenda at the hand of media reports on the issues of the day?
“Since citizens cannot cast informed votes or make knowledgeable decisions on matters of public policy if the information on which they depend is distorted, it is vital to American democracy that television news and other media be fair and unbiased.
In a recent Gallup Poll, the majority of Americans said they believe that the mass media slant reports in favor of the liberal position on current issues.
[The bias] is not the result of a vast left-wing conspiracy – [there is] an unconscious “groupthink” mentality that taints news coverage and allows only one side of a debate to receive a fair hearing. When that happens, the truth suffers.”2
According to the Society of Professional Journalist code of ethics published on the spj.org website, “Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair.” Journalists are charged in the ethical code to “avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.”3 Presenting the facts without injecting opinion, philosophy or ideology should be the goal. As you read, listen or watch the news, how is it possible to know if the reporting is biased? I have discovered biased reporting falls into one of the following categories:
• Bias by omission – leaving one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time; bias by omission can occur either within a story, or over the long term as a particular news outlet reports one set of events, but not another.
• Bias by selection of sources – including more sources that support one view over another. This bias can also be seen when a reporter uses such phrases as “experts believe,” “observers say,” or “most people believe.”
• Bias by story selection – a pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of either the Left or the Right, while ignoring stories that coincide with the opposing view.
• Bias by placement – story placement is a measure of how important the editor considers the story. Studies have shown that, in the case of the average newspaper reader and the average news story, most people read only the headline.
• Bias by labeling – bias by labeling comes in two forms: The first is the tagging of conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups unlabeled or with more mild labels, or vice versa. The second kind of bias by labeling occurs when a reporter not only fails to identify a liberal as a liberal or a conservative as a conservative, but describes the person or group with positive labels, such as “an expert” or “independent consumer group.”
• Bias by spin – bias by spin occurs when the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, to the exclusion of the other; spin involves tone – it’s a reporter’s subjective comments about objective facts; makes one side’s ideological perspective look better than another.4
It’s the buzzword of businesses looking to improve their bottom line.
It’s the mantra of politicians playing upon the discontent of their constituents.
It’s the excuse for the man who leaves his wife of decades to pursue the woman young enough to be his daughter.
It’s the word that society has fooled itself into thinking is the answer to all of our ills.
In a campaign speech in 2008, then Senator Barack Obama uttered these words…
Change will not come if we wait for
some other person or some other time.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
We are the change that we seek.
Now, almost nine years later, we are a nation more divided than any other time in decades. With riots happening all over our nation, terrorist attacks being commonplace, and the specters of racial unrest and “social justice” crying out at a fevered pitch, I’m afraid the “winds of change” have blown across the embers of discontent in our streets, and those who fanned the flames have long since lost control of the blaze. And while the hurricane of change lays waste to all in its path, the Church continues to give up ground, condoning what God condemns in a feeble attempt to gain acceptance in a world we were never supposed to get comfortable in.
Those looking for change were always on the right track;
they were just going about it the wrong way.
We DO need change. Our world is desperate for change. But in order to facilitate a positive change, we must first determine the direction we SHOULD be going. After all… if you are trying to reach a desired destination, simply changing direction still does not guarantee you are going the RIGHT direction. Change — simply for the sake of change, and without a clear direction or goal — can be as destructive as not changing at all.
In the Bible, James 1 :17 tells us…
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Paul tells us, in 2 Corinthians 3…
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We can run around, spinning our wheels and jumping on every change “bandwagon”, and we will accomplish nothing. Real change can only come through the transformational power of God. To transform is to change from the inside, out. God warns us not to conform to the world (see Romans 12:2). He is unchanging, and desires to give us the liberty that comes through knowing Him. However, in order for that to happen, we must come to Him on HIS terms. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (see Luke 9:23). We must allow His Holy Spirit to transform us into His image, not the other way around. When we attribute to God our flawed existence, we show how little of His holiness and righteousness we truly understand. We must come to Him in humility and repentance. Only then can we begin to see true change.
Do you want to have a positive impact on the racial climate in your city?
Point them to Jesus.
Do you want to see discontent turn to hope?
Point them to the cross of Christ.
Do you want to know what real change looks like in a nation?
Allow God to transform your life, and be the start of that change right where you are.
Pray this prayer today, as often as you think of it…
Lord, change me, and let me be the positive change you want to bring about in the world today.
Do you need positive change in your life? Click here.
Recently I, like the rest of America, became witness to your “protest” at the San Francisco 49ers games, in which, during the playing of the National Anthem, you chose to exercise your Constitutional right to remain seated, refusing to give honor to the symbol of the freedom we all share as Americans. In a statement to NFL Media, you said:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder… This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Now first of all, I would like to commend you for taking a (albeit misguided) stand for something. There are far too many people sitting on the sidelines of life doing nothing to help cure the social, moral, financial, and humanitarian problems our nation is facing right now. We live in a “selfie” society of the self-absorbed, with people unwilling to step outside of their comfort zones to reach out to their fellow man.
But, for your stand (or lack thereof — pardon the irony),
here’s the problem…
Exactly how does disrespecting the symbol of the freedoms you have been privileged to enjoy (many times over) accomplish anything? If you want to talk about responsibility, where is your responsibility to, after the talent and opportunity you have been blessed with, be a positive example to the youth of our nation? Where is your responsibility to be intellectually honest about the “cause” you have chosen to stand behind? Where is your responsibility as a “one-percenter” to use your vast resources to make a real, positive, and sacrificial difference in the world around you?
I understand that you support Black Lives Matter, which began after the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, but gained national prominence after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Now, we all recall that Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman — who was not a police officer, but was instead an insurance underwriter and private citizen — who CNN described as a “white Hispanic”; a description that smacked of racism, and was criticized by a variety of sources for a perceived attempt at trying to turn an unfortunate event into a racial issue. As for Michael Brown, even after the “hands up — don’t shoot” narrative was proven (multiple times) to be an absolute fabrication, your friends at Black Live Matters — as well as some of your fellow NFL players — didn’t let the facts get in the way of their flawed narrative.
In this blog about 2 months ago, I discussed the issue of police violence and corruption. Here is an excerpt for your consideration…
There are approximately 765,000 law enforcement officers in the United States who carry “arrest power” (the authority to arrest an individual). All total, there are over 1.1 million people who work in some capacity of law enforcement. An October 2015 articlein The Washington Post confirmed the following…
… “Only a small number of the shootings — roughly 5 percent — occurred under the kind of circumstances that raise doubt and draw public outcry, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The vast majority of individuals shot and killed by police officers were…armed with guns and killed after attacking police officers or civilians or making other direct threats.”
… “Of the 800 people killed by police this year, almost half have been white, a quarter have been black and one-sixth have been Hispanic.”
Now, statistically speaking, what one can surmise from this article is that…
Out of 765,000 officers, only 800 (total) have been involved in a fatal confrontation.
According to this statistic, .1% of police were involved in a shooting the year this article was written (2015).
Of the 800 people killed, the majority were white, and only a quarter were black.
Based on these approximations, and assuming that EVERY killing was unjustified (which we are not, except for the purpose of this example), that leaves approximately .03% of all police officers as being involved in the killing of African-Americans.
And please remember, these statistics come from The Washington Post, not what many would consider a “right-wing news outlet”.
Now, Colin, let’s look at another statistic…
There are approximately 1,696 players in the NFL, with an average annual salary of approximately $1.9 million. According to USA Today, from the beginning of 2015 to this date, there have been roughly 56 NFL players who have been arrested/cited for a variety of crimes ranging from DUI to domestic violence to drug charges and more. Based on these statistics, we can derive that about 3% of players in the NFL have been accused of crimes in the last year-and-a-half. Do you feel no obligation to speak out against your fellow players who break the law? Should we mete out the same level judgmentalism that you have, and lump you in with the criminal element within the NFL? After all, if every cop is a racist killer, then by your logic, every member of the NFL is a drunk-driving, drug-addicted, domestic abuser (yourself included).
You are correct in saying there are people that are oppressed in our nation. A couple of years ago, a team from my church visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to minister to some of the Oglala and Lakota Sioux native Americans there. What they found there was heart-breaking. If you want to make a real difference, how about taking your off-season time and some of your vast fortune, and helping some of these people in need?
As for disrespecting the flag and our National Anthem, I understand that some veterans have spoken out in support of you. Maybe that is because they understand the concept that what they fought for, and watched some of their brothers die for, was what the flag represents… freedom; even if it means the freedom to disrespect the flag as well as their sacrifice.
But who, exactly, are you disrespecting? Here are a few…
Crispus Attucks… the first person killed in The Boston Massacre, and considered to be the first casualty of the American Revolution.
John Martin… the first black American to fight in the Marines.
The Louisiana Battalion of Free Men of Color… who volunteered to fight with General Andrew Jackson in The Battle of New Orleans.
The Harlem Hellfighters… who fought for six months on the front lines during World War I. 171 members were awarded The Legion of Merit.
The Tuskegee Airmen, the 761st Tank Batallion, and the 452nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion… three brave all African-American units that served during World War II, and led to the desegregation of the U.S. military.
All of the names and companies listed above were comprised solely of African Americans. The flag of our nation, Old Glory, is the symbol many of these brave men fought and died for. The bullets coming at them weren’t fired based on the color of their skin. They were being shot at based on the color of their flag, and what that flag represented… freedom and liberty.
You are right in being outraged about “bodies in the street”. We all should be. But the vast majority of those bodies in the street are the result of gang violence, drugs, and out of control crime in places like Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, and Oakland… perpetrated by individuals who have lacked a positive role model. So how does your disrespect during the National Anthem do anything to solve those problems, other than give young people in our nation, not something to aspire to, but something else to complain about, and yet one more excuse for antisocial/bad behavior. When more black babies are aborted than are being born in places like New York City, I would venture to say that our problems are much deeper than the less than .03% of “bad cops”, and are not going to be solved by a handful of millionaire athletes disrespecting the symbol of what is RIGHT with our nation.
So, Mr. Kaepernick, I encourage you to take a long, hard look inside. You have the position, platform, and resources to make a real and lasting difference. Now that you have everyone’s attention for the wrong reason, you have the unique opportunity to turn it around for the right reason, and turn it into something positive. You can take what began, in the eyes of the vast majority of Americans as a disrespectful and offensive symbolic gesture, and use that notoriety to make a substantive positive difference in the lives of others. There is an old saying, “Just because you have the right to doesn’t make it right to.” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because someone is willing to fight for your rights means that they endorse your actions. You might find yourself alone in that belief.
I encourage you to watch this video. Here is a coach making such a difference in the lives of his players.
He had a kind boss, but for some inexplicable reason,
that wasn’t enough.
He had seen amazing things at the hands of his master, and thousands of people were touched by his goodness. Yet, as in many cases, the saying of him was definitely true… “No good deed goes unpunished”. And when betrayal comes with a pricetag…
Well, where do we sign up?
He waited for the opportune time to spring his trap — a time when all was quiet, the adoring crowds were gone, and he was relatively alone, except for maybe a few of his closest friends. His accusers were seconds away in hiding, just waiting for a sign…
A kiss. Yes!!! Such a sign of affection would be unmistakable for the wolves hiding in the shadows.
By now, if you know anything about the life of Jesus, you have probably figured out that I am talking about His betrayal at the hands of Judas Iscariot. With his singular act of betrayal, Judas entered the ranks of the most despised individuals in Biblical history, joining names like Cain, Goliath, Jezebel, Absalom, and many others. Yet his betrayal of the Son of God moved him straight to the head of the class; Judas had betrayed God for 30 pieces of silver, and although remorse soon set in, and he tried to undo the damage he had done, some things cannot be undone.
In a matter of days, Jesus was tried, convicted, killed, and rose from the grave.
Judas, on the other hand…
(For the whole story, read Matthew 26 – 27:9)
So how does one go from a position of favor to embracing a curse? How does one go from a place of honor to dying by suicide, and being buried in an unmarked grave? While I’m sure the other eleven disciples were somewhat surprised by Judas’s betrayal, none of this caught Jesus by surprise. After all, this historic betrayal had been foretold hundreds of years before…
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. ~ Psalm 41:9
And was again alluded to in Zechariah…
Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.”
So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me.
So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into
the house of the Lord for the potter. ~Zechariah 11:12-13
So what drove Judas to betray the Creator of the Universe to a self-serving and self-righteous bunch? What path did Judas take that led him to the hanging tree? What are the symptoms of The Judas Paradigm?
Judas had no faith. In John 6, Jesus puts before His disciples some pretty tough language about what it takes to follow Him. He recognized that there were many of His disciples who did not really believe, and their desertion bore out this fact (v.64-66). In the face of unpopular and controversial teaching, they bailed out. Even when given the choice to leave, and hearing Peter declare, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 68-69), Judas still masqueraded as a follower, and gave the illusion of devotion and trust.
Judas had no respect for the sacred. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume (John 12), Judas objected. “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (v. 5). The next verse reveals that Judas had no care or concern for the poor, but that he was a thief, and as the one tasked with the care of the money box, he regularly stole from the money that was given to Jesus and His disciples for their needs and the care of the poor.
Judas had no loyalty to the Truth. Because of the deceit of his heart, Judas was ripe to be used by the devil. John 13 bears out the fact that the rest of the disciples were clueless to his deceit (v.28-29). In verse 2, we learn that the devil had “put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot” to betray Jesus. At that point, he was considering his betrayal. But when consideration turned to commitment, Satan entered into him (v. 27). At that point, he was totally under the control of the demonic. In spite of the fact that Jesus had, in an act of abject humility, just washed Judas’s feet (as well as the other disciples), Judas maintained his destructive path that ultimately took him to the grave.
In our world today, we are seeing The Judas Paradigm alive and at work in our homes, our churches, and our government.
As statistics bear out, we are seeing a decline in the organized church in America today. Children are abandoning the faith of their parents for convenience, comfort, and a feel-good Gospel that requires no sacrifice, no commitment, and no tough choices. The goal is relevance and inclusion, at the expense of Truth and holiness. We have so blurred the lines between the sacred and the secular that the message of the blood of Jesus has been lost in pop-psychology and moral relativism. We have forgotten the words of Jesus, that fly in the face of this 21st century mindset…
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” ~ Matthew 16:24
When we lose our faith, it’s open season on what is sacred. We are seeing that at work in America today. Our founding documents (The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution) were written by men of faith that held the teachings of the Bible as guiding principles in their authorship of these documents. You cannot disregard one without catastrophic results to the others. When we removed the Bible from a place of prominence and respect in our society, it was a matter of time before our nation’s founding documents followed suit. The assault on our freedoms that we are seeing now, with utter disregard for The Constitution, is unprecedented. With the fate of the Supreme Court in the balance, America stands on the edge of a precipice. This year’s election will determine whether we move away from the edge, or plunge headlong into an abyss of lawlessness and Godlessness.
Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. ~ Proverbs 29:18
It’s easy to be loyal when people agree with you. But when society stands in opposition to the Word of God, we are forced to make a choice: We are forced to choose between the acceptance of the world or the approval of God. But make no mistake about it… if we choose the acceptance of the world, it puts us at odds with a Holy God. James 4:4 is pretty clear on the subject…
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity (hostility) against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. ~ James 4:4
Yet we are seeing an astounding number of “Christian” churches and pastors who are ignoring this dire warning, and condoning what God condemns. We are seeing politicians who — because of personalities — have abandoned their principles, promising to support a candidate who represents everything that is wrong with our political system, and who promises to continue us down a path of secularism, hedonism, and liberalism. The Judas Paradigm (spirit) allows loyalty to the Truth to take a back seat to our own comfort, feelings, and agenda. If we don’t like criticism, we cower to conformity. If we don’t like the messenger, we reject the message. If the road gets tough, we retire to the median and resign ourselves to being another casualty to a society bent on running over the righteous and off the cliff.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. ~ 2 Chronicles 16:9a
God is still looking…
He is looking for those who have faith, however small.
He is looking for those who recognize and respect the sacred.
He is looking for people of honor, who are loyal to Him.
He is looking for those who will stand when the crowd sits, be loud when the crowd is silent, and be faithful when the crowd is faithless.
He is looking for those who will gaze defiantly into the face of The Judas Paradigm, and refuse the 30 pieces of silver.
“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant
facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive
values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge
the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is
afraid of its people.” ~ John F. Kennedy
Statistics reveal Americans are fed up with the national news media. The major networks are seeing a steady decline in viewership, print media is losing subscribers by the thousands and the disdain of mainstream media has hit an all time high. Many Americans feel that what they are hearing from the mainstream media is nothing more than regurgitated political correctness in the form of hardhitting “news.”
“A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 65 percent of Americans believe that the national news media have a negative effect on our country. According to a recent Gallup poll, six in ten Americans now have little or no confidence in the national media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.”
A grammar school student by the name of Talha Wani wrote an opinion piece for the Express Tribune on the subject, “Can the Media be Trusted?”
He stated, “The media’s job is to represent the views and opinions of the masses, and inform and educate people regarding different points of views and opinions. The concept behind the media’s role is a simple one: To update society’s knowledge on the status of affairs through recent developments and events. Both the print and electronic media have a role to play in this regard. The most rudimentary ethics to follow in this endeavor are honesty and accurate reporting. However, sadly, honesty is the last thing to expect from this now complicated institution.
While the media has the ability to uphold the truth, it has, unfortunately, also been used as a tool of distortion and propaganda, and is often plagued with bias. It often acts as an avenue for profiteering rather than for accurate reporting or creating awareness among the public.”
I find it fascinating that a grammar school student sees the seriousness of the situation while those who sit in the comfortable confines of their ivory towers continue dictating to the American public what they should or should not believe. These media moguls don’t
have a clue that a revolt is taking place in this country. We are fed up and we are not going to take it anymore!
It wasn’t always that way.
During the early days of broadcast television, it was not uncommon to turn on the evening news at seven o’clock and watch one of the major networks tell the American people the ‘happenings’ of the day. For decades, many families ate their evening meal watching Walter Cronkite on CBS or the Huntley/Brinkley Report on NBC.
The favorite around our house was Walter Cronkite of CBS News. Because of his straightforward reporting, without mixing his own personal political views, he earned the nickname, “The most trusted man in America.” From 1962 to 1991, he reported on some of the most life-changing events in America. With a steadfast voice, he told us the “truth” about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the death of Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War. Whenever the news broke, he was the one America tuned in to watch.
For decades, we depended on men like Cronkite to give it to us straight and pull no punches. We did not have the luxury of the internet, or the plethora of cable news outlets to get alternative opinions on the events of the day.
In those days, when someone like Walter Cronkite looked into the camera and said, “And that’s the way it is,” you felt like he was telling you the unvarnished truth.
After the death of Walter Cronkite in 2009, Cliff Kincaid, Director of the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism, wrote an article in Accuracy in Media. He stated, “It is
wrong to speak ill of the dead. On the other hand, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to pretend that Walter Cronkite was the “voice of God” and “universally credible,” as Mara Liasson put it on Fox News Sunday. The terrible truth is that Walter
Cronkite symbolized liberal media bias and used that bias with disastrous consequences for our nation and the world.
We found out after his retirement that he was not only a liberal, which was evident from his broadcasts, but a “one-worlder.” In appearances before the World Federalist Association, which favors world government financed by global taxes, he called for the U.S. to renounce “some of its sovereignty” and pass a series of United Nations treaties-many of which are now being pushed in the Senate by President Barack Obama. Cronkite called for an “international Liberty Bell.”
I quote Kincaid’s article only to illustrate what many of us are now understanding with more clarity. The mainstream media is predominantly comprised of progressive liberals who want to shape the attitudes and opinions of the American public.
My purpose is not to smear or denigrate the good name of Walter Cronkite or anyone else who reported the news during those days. My goal is to simply point out that there was a time in our history when those who reported the news were trusted. Quite frankly, we did not have any idea of their political beliefs or motives. We just viewed the broadcast and print media as unbiased sources, free from personal opinion and ideology.
Remember, it was only a little over 40 years ago that two young reporters by the name of Woodward and Bernstein brought down the President of the United States. These two Washington Post reporters risked their own lives and reputations to give us the facts of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up by the White House.
Americans need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead, we are being force fed a steady stream of political correctness by the mainstream media that is facilitating the rhetoric of the progressive liberal agenda, and destroying this nation.
These are the things you shall do:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
give judgment in your gates for
truth, justice, and peace.
~ Zechariah 8:16
The recent movie The Finest Hours tells the story of the rescue of the crew of the S.S. Pendleton, a T2-type tanker that split in half off of the coast of Massachusetts on February 18, 1952. Caught in a nor’easter, the Pendleton was, ironically, one of two tankers that split in half on that day, within 20 miles of each other (the other ship being the S.S. Fort Mercer).
The rescue of the crew from the stern section of the Pendleton is still considered to be among the greatest of rescues by the United States Coast Guard, as thirty-two crew members of the tanker were saved by a four-man crew on a small Coast Guard lifeboat that was only rated to carry 12 people, including the crew. Unfortunately, nine of the Pendleton crew were lost; eight when the bow of the ship sank almost immediately after the initial break, and one man when, after helping his shipmates to safety, was struck in the head when a wave crashed into the lifeboat.
So while this story is just one more example of the bravery of our men and women in service, and is a testament to the courage and determination of the human spirit, there is another lesson that lies “below the surface”… and nine months before.
It was in July 1951 that the Pendleton ran aground on the Hudson River. The point at which the tanker ran aground was the same area where the ship broke in half. Could it be coincidence, or could it be that, when the ship ran aground, that area of the hull was structurally compromised, just waiting for a catastrophic event, such as happened on February 18, 1952?
And while the S.S. Pendleton has passed into history,
the reality of this lesson has not.
Every day, we pass by people who have been damaged by events, actions, and even words. While they put on a smile, the damage can run deep “below the surface”, just waiting for that one catastrophic event to occur that pushes them off the perilous safety of the shoals, lost to the deep of hopelessness, despair, and even death. Sometimes the damage is hard to recognize, because we have become a society comfortable with masks, and rarely look beyond the superficial. We don’t see the weight of the burdens that are dragging our family, friends, and neighbors to the depths.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. ~ John 10:10
Jesus wants us to abide in the safety of His love. He wants us let go of the weight of sin, pain, and anger that are dragging us to the depths. He wants us to have the faith to trust in Him through the storms of life, assured that He will see us through to safety.
So what are YOUR Finest Hours? Will it be letting go of “the sin that so easily besets” you (Heb. 12:1) and trusting Jesus? Will it be keeping watch along the coastline of humanity, and throwing a lifeline to someone who is drowning in misery and hopelessness?
The motto of the U.S. Coast Guard is “semper paratus“, Latin for “always ready“.
Are you ready to be that one when the Commander calls? Are you ready for your Finest Hours?
A man was healed… A testimony was given… God was glorified…
And for their effort, Peter and John were sent to jail.
After healing a lame beggar in Acts 3, Peter and John have the opportunity to share the message of Jesus with the astonished crowd that gathered. Peter reminds the crowd of their deplorable treatment of Jesus, but then declares in verse 16…
And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Because of their declarations of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the religious leadership opted to lock Peter and John up for the night. But not before, as chapter 4, verse 4 goes on to state, many more believed, and the numbers of believers increased.
To make a long story short, the next day, Peter and John were taken before the Sanhedrin, where they proceeded to continue to proclaim the name of Jesus, going as far as to declare that Jesus is…
“‘… The ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:11-12 (NKJV)
Upon their release, Peter and John reported to their people (believers) about what had transpired. What happened next was an impromptu prayer meeting, in which the people prayed…
“… And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word, by stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of Thy holy child Jesus.”
~ Acts 4:29-30 (KJV)
These verses are an oft overlooked, yet very good lesson for all of us. In the contentious social climate in which we live, this is a model prayer of boldness in the face of threats and terror, a boldness that refuses to be bullied by the arrogance of men, popular opinion, and political correctness. The Greek word for boldness that we see here is parresia, which means “freedom to speak”. Just as Peter and John testified in the face of ugly threats by religious leaders, we are to stand up in the face of a godless and deceptive culture and respond to their accusations and threats with signs and wonders (v.30).
Another interesting point is the word behold (v.29). This word does not mean to simply “look at”, but “God, You look at them and fix YOUR gaze upon them.” How many times have you seen a child back down from some form of folly simply because of the disapproving gaze of a parent? This is basically saying, “God… stare ’em down!”
Look folks… the message of the Gospel is a tough message. While yes, it is a message of love and hope in Christ, it is also a message of self-sacrifice, self-denial, and isolation (though none go with me, still I will follow). These days, there is no shortage of those who would try to intimidate us into silence and isolation. For Christians to speak the truth, we face the backlash of public scorn and ridicule, threats from governmental entities (such as the IRS), or threats of physical violence from groups, organizations, and religions who would terrorize us. Yet, we are not to cower in the face of opposition. We are not to remain silent during such threatenings. Recently, I wrote a book called The Unraveling of America. I didn’t write it because I was trying to make friends… I wrote it because the truth had to be told, regardless of how hard a truth that was.
So why should any of us take such risks? Why should we declare the truth? Because we are called to be salt and light. We are called to a life of faith, for it is only by faith that we can please God (Heb. 11:6). But we can also rest assured that, when we speak the truth, and live according to God’s direction, He shows up. Look at verse 31 of Acts 4…
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Back a few years ago, a very popular television show saw the end of a successful 20-year run. Law & Order was a drama, often based on actual police and judicial cases, in which a crime was committed, followed by courtroom drama in the prosecution of the accused. The show was so popular, it produced an offshoot series — Law & Order: SVU.
So… if Law & Order was so popular on TV, why is the rule of law and order not popular in today’s culture?
We live in a society based on laws. When people enter into public office, in most cases, they put their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. As Americans, our allegiance is not to a person… it is to a document that embodies the laws of the land. Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution reads…
“Before he [President] enters the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—’I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'”
In a nation built on the rule of law, it is unacceptable for those in authority to allow those laws to go unheeded, ignored, and disobeyed. Yet, in recent years, we have seen our laws be ignored time and again, both by criminals on the street, and powerful individuals in the halls of government. Whether it is private citizens breaking the law, or a President of the United States ignoring the law, both will lead to anarchy if left unchecked.
In the midst of so much societal unrest in our nation right now, we hear much talk about the First Amendment. Again, referring back to the Constitution, the First Amendment states…
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As a Christian, I believe in freedom of religion. As an American, I believe in freedom of speech. I do believe The First Amendment guarantees the right to protest peacefully.
When protests turn into the lawless chaos that we have seen over the past few years, resulting in looting, damage and loss of property, personal injury, and even death, this is not the definition of peaceful assembly. And when those in authority set the wrong example and precedent by blatantly ignoring laws, it creates an atmosphere of “anything goes” and a vacuum of absolution from personal responsibility. How can one hope to maintain a semblance of law and order when the laws you are tasked with upholding are berated and ignored… by the one tasked with upholding them.
Paul addressed the subject of authority in Romans 13 when he wrote…
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
Paul understood that submission to authority is not a burden, but a blessing, because by honoring authority, we honor the One who put that authority into place. There is blessing in obedience (1 Samuel 15:22).
Peter wrote that by honoring and submitting to authority, we silence “the ignorance of foolish men.”
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. ~ 1 Peter 2:13-17
“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Sounds like solid advice for a country that suffers from a crisis of leadership.
If we, the Church, can be a model of humility, integrity, and consistency, we can point people, not just to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but be a shining example of the peace and blessing that come through submissive obedience. Often in the past, the church has abdicated its God-given responsibilities, taking us further down the road to governmental dependence. It is time for the body of Christ to once again be salt and light, and make a difference in a society that is flying blind. It is time for us to be an example of what a return to Godliness, law, and order looks like on a national scale.