Category Archives: Christian leadership

No hurry and nothing to fear!

By Heather Walton

In a day where fear abounds, and where Christians see certain persecution looming on the horizon of history, in a day where people seek manmade solutions and develop timelines and deadlines, the Lord encourages us to be steadfast and to trust Him, no matter how deceptive the narrative and how dark the winter.

There is but one man in whom we should place our ultimate trust. One man who sits on the throne. One who knows truth. One who ultimately orchestrates.

His name is Jesus, and He never fails, never disappoints, never abandons, never lies, and never surrenders. He is the only one worthy of our praise, our adoration, and our worship.

For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

    and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

    there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

    to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

    from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV

When we place our hope in human governors and governments, or in media, or in authorities, we misplace our trust. Jesus rules over all, and someday that will be evident to all, but today, on this side of eternity, that is not yet apparent. For many, all appeared lost on Jan. 20. For others, all appeared gained. Yet only the King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows the full truth, and only He can redeem humanity from the curse brought on by sinful men who do the devil’s bidding.

There are some who await President Trump’s return on a white horse to set all things right. He is not going to. Whether he reappears in the pages of our human chronicle of history remains to be seen. Whether he will rescue our Constitution or rise up as the personification of evil also remains as yet history unwritten. The point is that too many have put too much hope in this man, and those who have need to repent and let God show Himself to be our only Savior. While Trump may yet return and do great things, he is not God. He can not ultimately rescue humanity from what ails us most — sin! It is not even fair to expect the things many have expected from this man.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe we are coming into a time of intense, worldwide persecution of Christians. We need to be ready. We will be cancelled, demonized, misrepresented, falsely accused, imprisoned, and perhaps even killed. The church is currently being refined and many are walking away. Perhaps you think I’m going a little overboard, but did you ever think churches would close, here in America, as a result of government orders? Did you ever think Christians and Christian textbook publishers would be blamed for a Capitol “insurrection?” Worse is coming. But ultimately, this should not worry us.

“Nothing is hurried. There is no confusion, no disturbance. The enemy is at the door, yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh the peace that Jehovah gives His people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances.”

Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David

When we know our eternity is settled, and we are right with our Creator, we can experience peace that passes all understanding, and even if we are called to face a martyr’s death, we can be at perfect peace. Take courage, redemption is just around the corner!

Who Among Us Will Stand?

https://hebringsbeautyfromashes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Who-Among-Us-Will-Stand.mp3
Audio version of this post

By Heather Walton

NEVER FORGET WHAT YOU SAW HERE

The Holocaust Museum stands as a testament that never again should we allow tyranny to intimidate us into submission to a government that seeks to destroy our fellow man, that seeks to take away our fundamental rights, that sinks headlong into atrocities and unfathomable crimes against humanity.

Imagine if you will that you had seen it coming. What would you have done? History stands as a witness that the German people — the German Christians — should have done more. Yet most did nothing as they witnessed an entire class of people become depersonified, demonized, dominated, and doomed to death.

This didn’t happen overnight, and it shouldn’t have happened at all.

And it mustn’t happen here.

Not on our watch.

Oh, but it’s not, you might say. We aren’t like the Germans before WWII. We would never allow what they did. Not us! We are enlightened. We believe in liberty, justice, and equality!

Do we? How easily will we give it all up for a little peace and safety? For a little prosperity? For a little health?

It would be intellectually dishonest to refuse to consider the implications of our collective consent to the tyrannical measures imposed to mitigate this virus. Indeed, it would be utter denial.

If you read the mainstream media, especially exclusively, you are being deceived. It is nothing but a steady stream of editorials designed to sway you to believe their thesis — that man is both the problem and the solution to the world’s problems, that we can fix what ails us, that there is no God but Caesar, and that we need the government to save us.

My fellow Americans, we have subsisted on a steady diet of propaganda for decades, and we have lost the ability to reason. If we don’t watch out, we will submit to, consent to, and perhaps even commit, terrible atrocities. (In fact, we do already.)

So what should we do? I’m glad you asked!

  1. Read. Research. Reflect.
  2. Consider that the media has a bias and an objective, and ask yourself if it aligns with yours.
  3. Seek out scholarly, peer-reviewed research about things like masks, vaccines, isolation, pandemics, and more.
  4. Consider why the government cares so much about this virus as opposed to others, especially things that cause more harm.
  5. Consider why certain people and activities are targeted and others aren’t. Are there commonalities?
  6. Start conversations. See if others are thinking as you are.
  7. Do the math on the virus. Compare the math to other illnesses and activities.
  8. Read about those who have stood against injustice.
  9. Read the Bible.

Then, if you think something just doesn’t add up, consider engaging in activities that could turn the tide against tyranny.

It doesn’t take much time and effort to call or email your representatives and governing officials. If you want to go deeper, consider how you can educate others and how you might stand up against injustice.

Even though my governor has taken many liberties with our freedom, that doesn’t mean I should submit. Indeed, I have chosen the path of resistance in multiple small ways over the past few months.

What about Romans 13, you ask? I believe many Christians are being shamed into submission by the use of a few carefully chosen verses of Scripture. Yes, we do need to submit to the governing authorities; however, people preach this, assuming that civil government is the highest law. If that is the case, to which civil government, and to which part of civil government do we give the highest degree of submission? The mayor? The governor? The court? The legislators? The president? The U.N.?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Preamble to the Declaration of Independence (Emphasis Added)

According to our founding fathers, a higher Governor gives us our rights.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego agreed:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18 ESV (Empahsis Added)

Not only did these courageous men refuse to comply with Nebuchadnezzar’s edict, but they chose to do so regardless of the consequences. Likewise, Peter and John, when admonished not to preach about Christ, appealed to the ultimate Lawgiver:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:27-29 (ESV)

Brothers and sisters, do we have such courage? Do we not see that our liberties are sacred, and no matter the rightness or wrongness of the suggested measures to combat this virus, the mandated countermeasures by principle are immoral. For the civil government to interfere with our personal freedoms, and especially our religious freedoms, is unconscionable and the potential consequences are horrifying.

I’m not debating the morality of mask-wearing, though I have made, and continue to make, a case against their efficacy and necessity. However, I am openly challenging the idea that the government is requiring us to cover our faces with cloth. More than that, I’m proclaiming that the government should not interfere with the church, with free speech, and with individual families’ decisions of whom or how many people to have in their homes. The government also should not dictate when people get tested for infectious diseases or demand to know with whom they’ve associated (unless a crime has been committed). And the civil authorities definitely should not be able to forcibly or coercively vaccinate anyone, child or adult, period.

For the civil government to interfere with our personal freedoms, and especially our religious freedoms, is unconscionable and the potential consequences are horrifying.

So I’ll ask again: Do we have the courage of our forefathers and the great men and women of faith throughout the ages? Will we stand against oppression and tyranny? Will we do this for our fellow man? Will we do it for our posterity?

Consider these words from the Declaration of Independence:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness … But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Declaration of Independence (Emphasis added)

Our founders duty-bound us not to accept what is going on in our government today. They call out to us across history, and tell us that, when government challenges our fundamental rights, we should not allow it. They take it a step further, and say that such government must be overthrown! Are we there yet?

We have given in to the lie that Jesus was weak, that the Gospel is emasculated, impotent niceness that doesn’t mess with our daily lives. We forget the Jesus who challenged the money changers and the Pharisees, the Jesus who told Pilate he would have no power unless God allowed it, the Jesus who told us to give what is Caesar’s to Caesar and to God what is God’s.

We have given in to the lie that Jesus was weak, that the Gospel is emasculated, impotent niceness that doesn’t mess with our daily lives.

Our highest allegiance is to God, not to Caesar, and when the two conflict, we can cower and acquiesce to governors and kings, or we can stand with that great cloud of witnesses and defend our rights as God’s image-bearers, not because we are entitled, but because we are morally obligated to stand up against evil for the sake of our fellow citizens and the coming generations.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this:

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sermon on II Corinthians 12:9

Consider also that great cloud of witnesses listed in Hebrews 11, men and women who “were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16 ESV).

May we be worthy of that city by being the best caretakers of our God-given liberty as long as He gives us the strength to do so!

The Rise of Socialism and the Case for Civil Disobedience

from https://factfile.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Quotes.jpg

By Heather Walton

I have heard Christians say that we should stay completely out of “politics.” As I’ve prayerfully considered this stance, I’ve found it lacking. Instead, my dual citizenship compels me that, in order to truly be heavenly minded, I must also be of earthly good. Just because Jesus is coming, and hopefully coming soon, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be about His business until the very day the trumpet sounds or He takes me home.

My dual citizenship compels me that, in order to truly be heavenly minded, I must also be of earthly good.

Some have said that America is done, past the point of no return, and that we just need to let events play out. While I would agree that it appears that the sun is setting on our beloved republic, and that it is only a matter of time before we willingly submit to socialism, and subsequently join hands with the coming “new world order,” that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up.

Consider the parable of the talents: The master left three servants in charge of various amounts of his wealth. Two servants invested his money wisely and brought a return, and were therefore rewarded. The third, who feared his master, buried the talent apportioned to him, rather than making it work for his master until his return. As a result, he was disinherited and his talent given to another. Only recently did I realize that Jesus shared this parable in the context of end times prophecy. Church, we are not to bury our talents as we await our master’s return! We are to be about our Master’s business until the very last second.

If, instead, we as the church, forfeit the culture war, the war for the very soul of our nation, and the very soul of the church itself, with the excuse that “our citizenship is in heaven,” we should be charged with spiritual treason. He has called us to “rescue those being led to the slaughter,” to hold back evil, to warn the sinner, to admonish the saint, to subdue the earth, to, like our Creator, in whose image we were formed, use our gifts and talents, not to bury them as we await His return. This does not mean our hope is in this world; rather, unless our faith is evidenced by these actions, how are we to draw all men to Him, and ultimately to that eternal reward He desires for them. If the ministers, missionaries, and apostles of old, would have had the attitude that the culture is lost and we simply need to submit to ungodly authority as we await our heavenly Savior’s return, where would the Kingdom of God be today? Would this country even exist?

If, instead, we as the church, forfeit the culture war, the war for the very soul of our nation, and the very soul of the church of itself, with the excuse that “our citizenship is in heaven,” we should be charged with spiritual treason.

Think of men like William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Patrick Henry, and George Washington. Think of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men were heroes because they refused to submit to tyranny, and because they instead stood against tyrants on behalf of those who could not stand up or who would not stand up for themselves. They were not necessarily considered heroes by their peers during that time, yet they risked their reputations, their livelihoods, and their very lives for the righteous causes to which they had been called.

“Well, these men were exemplary in their time,” you might say. “They were specially gifted and called by God for those tasks.” Yes and no. We are all plainly called to “love mercy, practice justice, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8), “to rescue the orphan and widow in their distress and to live lives unstained by the world” (James 1:27), and to “rescue those being led away to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11). These admonitions are for all believers, not a select few. We consider these men to be extraordinary, but only because we have settled for mediocrity in the Kingdom of God. We now view ordinary Christianity as extraordinary, or perhaps even as sin.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

Isaiah 1:17 ESV

The American church has so watered down the Gospel that countless souls are deluded into the illusion of justification before a holy God; unless we sound the alarm boldly and unwaveringly, their blood will be on our hands.

Perhaps it is because of this watering down that we have bought into such heresies as the social justice gospel, which tells us that man can cure the world’s ills without requiring repentance, easy believism, which gives us Jesus as Savior while neglecting His Lordship, and “open and affirming” faith communities, which deny essential scriptural truths.

We now view ordinary Christianity as extraordinary, or perhaps even as sin.

Perhaps it is because of this watering down that we have believed the lie that we need to keep our faith private and not speak into the culture. That there are two realms — the sacred and the secular. Not at all! Either Jesus is our life and governs every aspect, or we are not alive in Christ at all!

If the Gospel hasn’t changed our lives, we haven’t accepted it, and are not beneficiaries of His grace. This is sobering, as it should be. We are called to examine ourselves in light of the Gospel, and judge ourselves, not by our peers’ actions and reactions, but by the Word of God. If we are not in line with it, if we are offended by it, if we are unwilling to live by it, we would be presumptuous to trust our eternal security.

Do we live our lives worthy of this very Gospel? Does our faith cost us anything? Should it perhaps cost us everything? In attempting to keep our lives, we lose them, but in losing our lives for Jesus’ sake and for His Gospel, we gain an eternal glory to which nothing in this world compares.

We have allowed a stunning degree of apostasy into the church. We have played the harlot with the gods of this world. We have trampled the grace of God with the foulest of sins, and we have failed to reprove — and worse, even given hearty approval to — those who prostitute themselves to an Americanized “grace.” In doing so, we have baptized converts into the very gates of hell. For this, we must give an account. From this, we must repent.

Christians, our country is falling fast into an evil that steals, kills, and destroys. That evil is socialism, an ideology devoid of God, an ideology that dictators have used to rise to power at the expense of the vulnerable. Do the names Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler bring up any hint of virtue? No, these men are considered an anathema in the rolls of history. These men were all socialists, communists, Marxists.

Socialism, a pretty name for Marxism, is purely evil. Today it may look like the government is doing some good things that fall in the realm of socialism, but don’t be deceived. Consider public education: isn’t it a good thing? How would our children learn to read and write and do math otherwise? How would they become responsible citizens otherwise? What about the poor who can’t afford private schools?

Don’t fall for it!

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.

Vladmir Lenin

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”

Adolf Hitler

John Dewey, father of modern public schools, believed that the best way to change the society for the better was through education. As a religious humanist, Dewey believed it was the duty of the schools and other social institutions to transform society, from what he saw as the antiquated traditional model embraced by theists, to a modern secular society ruled by pragmatism and a devotion to community ideals.

Public schools are a socialist construct. Before the state ran public schools, the church offered free education to those who were able to partake. Others were home educated in academics, practical skills, vocations, or a combination. The humanistic, socialistic takeover of schools was by design, and as a result, we have ridden the slippery slope into a pit of immorality and decadence, and our children can not understand the Bible or the Constitution, and they scoff at both. Government has no place in educating our children; it is our responsibility as the church and as the family.

The result of the slide into socialism is that we now are canceled as old-fashioned, homophobes, closed-minded, delusional bigots who are out of touch with reality. In many cases, our neighbors, family members, friends, and even our own children have developed animosity and bitterness toward us, but more importantly toward the God that created them. Yet, some still spout scripture to justify their attitudes and action, and they even use it against us.

For example, in my home state, our governor regularly cites his faith as reason to implement tyrannical measures to “fight the coronavirus,” yet this same man defies the God he cites allegiance to by celebrating homosexuality and abortion. This man who alleges to personally feel the pain of every loss to this virus has no problem severing the livelihoods of healthy people and shaming those who don’t agree. He tramples liberty and belittles those who disagree.

Submitting to unjust laws is not Biblical. Should the German Christians have submitted to Hitler? Of course not! But it was a gradual descent, one that they probably didn’t see because it started out subtle and continued subtly until they got to a point of no return. It likely would have been hard to recognize as it was happening, unless they were really paying attention. In saying that, I’m not likening any of our government officials to Hitler, but I’m simply saying that, if the German Christians would have seen the whole picture from the beginning, perhaps they would not have submitted to the gradual steps that got them to the horrific place they ended up.

I don’t believe this nation has much longer. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to hold back the darkness as long as we can. I don’t necessarily mean to take up arms. But I do mean that I will not submit to unjust mandates if it is in my power to resist, and I’m not doing it to “demand my rights,” but instead to demand your God-given, Constitutionally-affirmed, rights as His image-bearers. If that makes me unpopular, or if it brings me difficult consequences, so be it. Regardless of how one feels about liberty, it is an absolute, and I won’t give up our collective liberties without resistance.

Trump Card: Are politicians and policies able to save America?

And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13b-15 ESV

When playing cards, it would be ideal to know the opposition’s hand. Skilled players attempt to discern this through examining behavior and keeping track of what’s been played. At times, they may miscalculate out of error or because the opponent outwits them. To win against a master card player, you’ve got to be alert.

Jesus wasn’t a card player, but He knew how to perfectly judge the heart, and to respond with wisdom and grace. He bucked the religious leaders and hung out with sinners, and boldly proclaimed to both that they needed to repent. Calling people to repentance is rarely received with accolades, yet Jesus boldly called out the Pharisees and spoke plainly to Pilate. The Master impartially showed grace as He commanded obedience, and He unapologetically shared truth, no matter the personal consequences. As Christians, we should be ready to do the same.

I know my prayerfully considered thoughts will not be popular, and I’m not Jesus, so I understand they likely aren’t perfect, yet I respectfully submit them for your consideration:

When I was 17 years old, and still a senior in high school, I took the Oath of Enlistment, which reads,

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” 

(Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

And I meant it. I found myself recently reaffirming this Oath when I joined a 3% militia group, this time with domestic, rather than foreign, enemies in mind. I reasoned that, as a Christian, it was my duty to do what I could to hold back the forces of evil in America, that this is a righteous nation, that I could contribute to the cause of Christ by doing my patriotic duty to help hold back lawlessness. It was important to me that I not unite with a racist organization, so I found a group that seemed to espouse my values.

I also joined a local group that was growing exponentially, a group of fellow patriots who wanted to restore order in our city.

It didn’t take me too long to decide that neither of these groups was the fit I sought. I ended up drifting out of both.

I’ve watched multiple patriot rallies, and they haven’t set well with me. It’s nagged at me that typically there tends to be a black speaker or two, but the audience generally is lily white. There are flags — American flags, Trump flags — and there are patriotic speeches and sometimes Pledges of Allegiance and anthem singing. These things literally make me want to weep, not because they stir up high feelings of patriotism, but because patriotism isn’t the solution. “Back to normal” isn’t the solution. Voting for the “right” candidates isn’t the solution. Upholding the Constitution isn’t the solution. I’m not saying the political process isn’t valuable, or that we shouldn’t participate; I’m simply positing that putting one’s hope in our great democracy is misguided to say the least.

America isn’t the world’s salvation or its only hope. Trump is not, as some seem to communicate, the second messiah. Militias can’t restore what America has lost. Extreme conspiracy groups, such as QAnon, can’t fix things like exposing the Deep State. None of these things are the answer, because none of them can change hearts.

Going to the other extreme, we have groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM), Antifa, and the NFAC. These groups have Satanic roots, and I won’t apologize for saying so. BLM is Marxist and their leaders are engaging in new age rituals, such as chanting the names of deceased people (#SayHisName “George Floyd” and #SayHerName “Breonna Taylor”), to receive power from them. Antifa is purely bent on destruction and disorder, which the Bible condemns. And NFAC leader Jay Johnson is a new ager, looking to books such as the Book of Enoch for power. None of these things espouses virtue.

Advocates of civil intervention don’t have the answers either. The government can’t save the world by prolonging life with masks and social distancing, and providing prosperity through endless stimulus and unemployment checks. Lawmakers can’t make rioters and looters conform and they can’t reform the police through funding or defunding.

As a Christ-follower, I have examined each of these alternatives and more, trying to make sense of how to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that effectively addresses the problems we face. Each of them has come up woefully short.

I think we need to start with a humble acknowledgement that, as the Church, we have not done what we should, that our ancestors have not done what they should, and that we need to repent right now, where we are. The church has abdicated its rightful place in the community as a restrainer of evil. This isn’t new — it’s been going on for centuries. In America’s history, there were anti-Biblical principles ingrained in the founders, and thus the society. For example, our founding fathers knew slavery and prejudice were wrong, yet they allowed it to be integral to the fabric of our nation. Pastors throughout the history of our free republic have allowed and at times encouraged slavery and segregation. They have caved in to a perceived need to foster economic security, rather than standing against the evils of such practices.

While I do not agree with Critical Theory, including Critical Race Theory, I do believe racism is a problem in our culture. If I compared my experience of America with that of a black person who grew up in the West End of Louisville, which is the primarily black area of town, I doubt we would agree on our assessment of this country. Likewise, I doubt that either of us would agree on this same assessment with someone who immigrated from Africa. Perspective is key. Racism is a problem, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY solution. According to the Bible, we are not to be divided by “race,” as that is a man-made construct.

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

1 John 4:21-20

According to this passage, one simply cannot be both racist and a Christian. One may have false conceptions and cultural biases, and that is often not good, but racism is hate-filled, and therefore not an option compatible with salvation.

Arrogance and grandiosity also are not compatible with Christian testimony. Recently John Piper was blasted by many evangelical leaders for his recent article in which he condemned President Trump’s character and posited that Christians should consider not voting for him. It has baffled me continually that Christians have so vehemently defended and supported the president, even holding him up as our only hope.

Jesus is our only hope and the Gospel is the only method. I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t be involved in the political process or in efforts to reform our nation; I believe we should. However, God often works in ways incompatible with our experience or expectation. Today I see many evangelicals looking for pragmatic solutions, such as voting policy over character, or even justifying clear anti-biblical behavior such as reviling and boasting, in their quest to solve the deep-rooted problems of our day. And while pragmatism is a good strategy in poker, the “game of life” has eternal consequences, and thus requires a different approach.

“And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 ESV

I believe that the political “right” and the “left” are ultimately two wings of the same bird. We must remember that our enemy, the devil, masquerades as an angel of light. He is the great deceiver (Revelation 12:9) and he holds the power of the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6; John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 5:19). This power is his to give, and though the enemy has no power except that which God grants (Job 1, Job 2, Luke 22:31-32) and no ruler as authority unless the Lord allows it (John 19:11), Satan has a strong hand in world affairs. That he uses that hand like a card deck should come as no surprise.

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

Matthew 24:24 ESV

In the last days, Christians will be swayed by false messiahs. Whether we are there yet remains to be seen, but it seems evident that the last days are, at minimum, fast approaching. There is much deception. The art of deception is that it’s convincing. This last-days deception will be so confusing that even the elect may be led astray. What a sobering thought! Therefore we need to be alert, on guard, wise, discerning, and steadfast.

We need to know the Word of God so well that we will not be enamored by anyone, that we will not share with anyone the allegiance that belongs to God alone, that we will not fall away from the faith because we have found someone who offers a humanistic solution.

Some say this election will determine whether or not the soul of America remains or dies. I have news for you: America does not have a soul, but Americans do. Most Americans have not given proper care to their souls, even and especially within the Church. Most Americans are more concerned about the economy and their own comfort and convenience than they are about the state of their souls. Metaphorically speaking, America’s soul is already lost; if that wasn’t the case, we would have better candidates for political office. We would have statesmen. We would have candidates who cared about the unborn and the immigrant. We would have candidates who could be compassionate and controlled, yet unyielding regarding matters of deep conviction. We would have candidates who acknowledge the need to combat racism without giving in to domestic terrorists or dishonoring police. We would have candidates who practice and lead us to repentance rather than making arrogant claims and slanderous accusations on social media. Our candidates don’t shape the culture; they reflect it — this is why I believe America’s “soul” is already lost, and that it would take a miracle to reclaim it.

Like Piper, I will not be voting for either mainstream candidate. While many would say that I should not “throw away” my vote and that I should vote policy, I disagree. I am not asking you to vote as I do, but I am asking you to prayerfully consider your perspective. God is not a pragmatist; neither should His followers be. While I will vote my conscience, I also will leave the results in His hands, and I will not put too much hope in the political process. Why not? Because there’s only ONE who truly holds the trump card, and He has the final say. My trust is in Him and Him alone, my allegiance is primarily to a heavenly kingdom, and my eternity is secure. Ultimately, we can make plans, but the Lord’s will prevails.

Are We in the End Times? (Part 2)

By Heather Walton

This is the second article in a series about the End Times. I highly recommend reading this article first.

I enjoy studying prophesy because I love to see God’s plan unfold, and it’s exciting to think that Jesus Christ could come for the church in my lifetime, that I may not actually have to die in order to go to heaven. To think the God may have chosen me to live in this particular time in history is thrilling. In Acts 17:26, we learn that God determines when and where each of us fits into His eternal tapestry. I trust that He has placed me exactly in this time and place for a purpose, and I’ll consider it a bonus if I get to be one of the ones who gets to be taken to heaven while still alive.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV

I have long wondered if I might be part of the generation that gets to be on the earth when the Rapture takes place, but recent world events have brought me to a greater degree of anticipation. Signs of the times have been appearing a long time, and we have been in the “last days,” since Jesus ascended into heaven. But I’m specifically referring to the very last days, the end times.

In Matthew 24, we are told that many people will be taken by surprise, simply living life, marrying, eating, drinking, working, going on with business as usual. And suddenly two people will be working together or lying down together and one will suddenly be gone. Jesus says that the hour he comes will be unexpected, but, like in the Jewish wedding custom, we should be able to tell when the time is getting close for the groom, Jesus, to come get His bride, the church.

Many people are looking hard for certain signs that will only be fully revealed after the rapture takes place, such as the identity of the antichrist or the mark of the beast. While there are some people and things that strongly appear to have the potential to fulfill these prophesies, I don’t believe we will be able to know for sure before the one who holds the man of lawlessness back, the Holy Spirit, is taken out of the world via the church’s disappearance from the earth in the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).

The spirit of the antichrist has been at work since the Garden of Eden, when Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from any tree in the garden” (Genesis 3:1)? There are some noteworthy elements of this question. First, he got her to question God. Second, he subtly twisted God’s words, so that there was an element of truth, yet it was mixed with a lie. A truth mixed with a lie is a lie, because partial truth is no truth at all. Third, he took his question to Eve, rather than Adam, probably in part because she hadn’t heard directly from God; this was a way to get her to question God, as well as her husband. Fourth, this question was designed to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness, and to make her feel oppressed.

Satan followed up with, “He knows if you eat of it, you won’t surely die, but you will become like Him, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4). In other words, Eve, honey, He’s holding out on you. He’s oppressing you. In fact, he’s lying to you. He wants to keep all the power for Himself. But you deserve better, don’t you? You know, I have a solution: if you eat this fruit, you won’t die; on the contrary, you’ll be like God, and you can get out from under His oppressive yoke and get what’s due you. Doesn’t that sound good? Come on, darling, just one bite and you can be your own god.

He appealed to her emotions, he lied to her, and he created discontent in her, in order to compel her to action. He created a false gospel that we see alive and well today; he tempted her to believe that she could solve her own problems, in her own power, that she didn’t need God, and that she would not only escape the consequences God had laid out, but would instead be rewarded for going against God’s design. Not all who buy into these humanistic lies are atheists, but they operate in various degrees of functional atheism, depending on human solutions and achievements to solve the world’s problems. This, I believe, is the spirit of the antichrist that is in the world.

The mark of the beast is symbolized by the number 666 (Revelation 13:18). Since perfection in Scripture is symbolized by the number seven, six falls just short of that. Notice that Satan’s lies in the garden were close to the truth, but had a subtle difference, one you would have to be very attentive to notice. The devil is clever, “masquerading as an angel of light” (2 Thessalonians 11:14), and his tactics have an appearance of godliness, yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The doctrine of humanism fits this description well.

While humanism fits the principles of the spirit of the antichrist and the mark of the beast, I also believe there will be a literal man who culminates history by embodying the spirit of the antichrist, being possessed by Satan himself (Daniel 7:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18). I also believe that there will be a literal mark of the beast, which people will be required to have in order to buy and sell (Revelation 13:16-18; Revelation 19:20). I believe the antichrist is alive today and ready to step onto the world stage, and the technology to implement the mark of the beast is in development. I don’t know exactly who the antichrist is, or what the mark will be, but I can see several players emerging and multiple technological possibilities.

The books of Daniel and Revelation (Daniel 7:24; Revelation 13:1-18) tell us of 10 kingdoms, with 3 dominant kingdoms, and 1 leader emerging. People have long thought these 10 kingdoms are 10 countries, but I would like to propose a different possibility. I believe these 10 kingdoms may be 10 global organizations, committed to bringing about a unified governing body that will solve the world’s problems. There are multiple global organizations working toward a common goal of ushering in world peace, ending hunger and poverty, bringing about health reforms, lowering the population, creating imposed equality, reversing climate change, and creating a united human community. While these may sound like excellent goals, they propose humanistic means to meet humanistic ends.

The United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development goals, the pope’s Human Fraternity initiative, the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset,” the World Health Organization’s Constitution, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s core beliefs, Babylon Health’s “accessible and affordable health care,” the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the World Bank, the Open Society Foundation and the World Trade Organization are among the global players with a humanistic agenda. Many, if not all, see needs for global unity and collaboration in order to usher in an era of peace, equity, and health for all people.

The current worldwide health crisis provides an opportunity to advance the agenda of these and other likeminded organizations. The World Economic Forum published an article this week that detailed how the COVID-19 crisis can facilitate a “global reset.”

“We set up a new world order after World War II. We’re now in a different world than we were then. We need to ask, what can we be doing differently? The World Economic Forum has a big responsibility in that as well – to be pushing the reset button and looking at how to create well-being for people and for the Earth.”

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/covid19-great-reset-gita-gopinath-jennifer-morgan-sharan-burrow-climate/

The global health situation has not actually changed the world, but has revealed what was already going on behind the scenes. Many refuse to see what’s taking place, or they see these initiatives as good. Again, there is an appearance of godliness. The problem is that humanistic solutions provide a false gospel, one that says we can save ourselves. They don’t require that we denounce faith in the god of our choice, even the true God, as long as that faith leaves room for us to also bow down to the gods of human achievement, personal entitlement, and political correctness, to name a few. The problem is that God refuses to share His glory with another. He is a jealous God, requiring our complete allegiance. Just as a loving parent doesn’t consider partial obedience to be true obedience, neither does our Creator consider partial allegiance to be acceptable worship.

Jesus said we are either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). Those who are with Him, who truly follow Him, will spend eternity with Him, but those who deny Him or are lukewarm in their devotion will spend eternity separated from Him (Matthew 7:21; Matthew 10:33; John 3:16-18; Revelation 3:14-22). In light of this, we should examine ourselves. The time is short. Even if the rapture doesn’t take place anytime soon, though I believe it will, any of us could die at any time. That’s why those of us who know the Lord need to be intentional and passionate about sharing the Gospel and discipling others (Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5) and who those who don’t yet know Him need to confess their sin, turn from their wicked ways (even though they may seem like “good” people), confess Jesus as Lord, and allow Him to guide their thoughts and decisions from now on (Acts 2:38; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; Acts 16:31; Titus 3:5; Romans 3:23; Romans 10:9-10).

Whether you’re reading this before or after the rapture of the church, it’s important to recognize that humanism doesn’t solve our problems because we don’t have the control we think we do. If there’s anything these times should teach us, it’s that we are not as powerful as we think we are. The only wise way to deal with this truth is to humbly accept it, and then to accept the grace God freely gives, to worship Him, and to serve others for their good and His glory.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:17 ESV

Awakened from Slumber: Thoughts from a Privileged American

By Heather Walton

I grew up in a home that was as colorblind as realistically can be. I didn’t have much interaction with people of different backgrounds; however, I knew that racism and prejudice were unacceptable. I realize that we naturally have biases, and we need to acknowledge that, and at times even to fight against those preconceptions. I owe my mother a debt for her teaching and example. My children do as well, because I’ve been able to model this for them and I am thankful that her views have blessed two generations so far.

While this is a tremendous foundation, I have long tried to understand what I should be doing, beyond seeing everyone in the human race as equal and deserving of respect, as well as teaching my children to do the same. I try to write things that bring injustice to people’s attention. I pray about it (albeit not enough). I try to learn from those who experience injustice and marginalization, but they don’t always want to talk. Maybe they feel it’s futile because there’s no way they can make me understand their experience.

Even so, I know I haven’t done enough. What little I have done hasn’t been sufficient. Most of this is due to ignorance, but I can’t let myself off the hook, because it’s on me to learn. I’ve also been silent at times when I needed to speak up. Frankly, it’s easy to put something out of mind that is out of sight. For these things, I apologize.

Frankly, it’s easy to put something out of mind that is out of sight.

It’s hard to know what to do, because I know that whatever I do to try to do may offend someone. I might do it wrong. I might inadvertently be insensitive. I might have the opposite effect than I intend. I realize that’s a possibility even in writing this article, but I am risking it, in the hopes that it will make a difference for good. That’s why, if you’re a person of color, I need you to educate me.

Last night, I accompanied my daughter to the protest in our city. That may seem crazy, given that the night before there were shots fired. But in hopes that the protests would be peaceful, and because, even though she’s an adult, I’m still a momma bear, and because I really do want to show solidarity, I rode along. However, we didn’t make it to the protest because as we were walking toward it, teargas was deployed. Don’t get me wrong: teargas doesn’t scare me; I was in the army and have been gassed. I’m not eager to experience that again, but I would do it to defend injustice. I knew it was in response to violence, though, and I do not want to be a part of that if at all possible.

My daughter tried to explain to me why violence may be necessary, and I’m trying to understand. I think I get it to some extent: People say they’ve tried to get our attention — those of us who are privileged — by peaceful means, but we didn’t listen. Sometimes when people aren’t heard when they ask quietly or respectfully, they feel the need to talk more boldly or loudly. I can understand that, but at the same time I can’t.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that, and “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate… Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

“Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”. Book by Martin Luther King Jr., 1967.

Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Many who have been discriminated against or otherwise been the recipients of injustice may not feel like we live in the same house. But I have to ask, what happens if we destroy ourselves from within? And what can we do to prevent this? These are genuine questions. What ways can a privileged American make this situation better? For those of us who want to know, we value the input of those who have experienced racial injustice. And the only way for us to truly know is for you to tell us.

I welcome your comments.

A Conflict of Liberty?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

There is a divide in the church today. Unfortunately, this statement could likely be made at any time in history past, present, or future, until the Lord returns.

I just read an article about a local megachurch, in which they had taken a survey of their members. According to the pastor, there was about an equal split between members who believe they should meet in person immediately, those who think they should wait the situation out a little longer, and those who believe they should wait till there’s a cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Right after reading that, I read a post from a Christian leader who believes it’s cowardly for pastors not to immediately open, especially given that the President said he supports churches opening right away, even though some governors have kept them closed or placed lots of restrictions on them; she was discouraged that many pastors elected to remain closed.

Our small church did open today, allowing for following CDC recommendations, while not demanding churchgoers follow these protocols. We had some folks in attendance, as well as some watching online.

Christian seems to rise against Christian, some claiming we need to stand up for our rights, while others say that doing so violates Biblical principles. While I agree that the Bible trumps the Constitution, I also would posit that the Constitutional framers did so with Biblical principles in mind. Initially I asserted the view that we should lay down our First Amendment rights for the greater good of protecting our brother from harm; however, I’ve appreciated some contrary perspectives, and, while I don’t claim to have a perfect answer, I want to propose consideration of these thoughts:

  1. If someone slaps me on the right cheek, I can offer him the left; however, if someone slaps all of us on the right cheek, or if slapping me on the right cheek could lead to abuse of others, I should strongly consider standing up for our collective rights.
  2. I should examine my motives; if I’m driven by fear, greed, unrighteous anger, or any other sinful attitude, I should reconsider my position. Once my motives are pure, then I need to establish the best plan of action and follow it.
  3. What precedents are we setting by allowing our Constitutional rights to be infringed upon? How will our response impact future generations? We need to be wary of giving up rights that our God-fearing forefathers and generations of military members secured for us, many of them giving their lives, and all of them being willing to do so. More importantly, we need to prayerfully consider what is worth giving up the freedoms for which Christ set us free. We have been commanded not to be subject again to a yoke of slavery. The enemy of our souls can make a very convincing argument, and we need to be vigilant and discerning, lest we be led astray.
  4. What effect do our actions and inactions have on those who witness them? What will most glorify God to the watching world? There is a prevailing thought that Christians need to be compliant, docile, and unassuming at all times. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Some people believe that, since Jesus was described as meek, we are not to assert ourselves. However, meekness isn’t weakness. Meekness is power under control, not a lack of power. Jesus stood up against oppression and injustice. He spoke out against the Pharisees, who placed unbearable yokes on others, and against the moneychangers, who took advantage of others. He did not gloss over sin, but lovingly confronted transgressors. Should we not follow in His steps?
  5. How has our culture shaped our view of what it means to be loving? Is being nice the same thing as being kind? In this era of political correctness, we have been brainwashed into trying to please everyone and to avoiding actions that may offend others. To love another means to want his or her best. I would never condone shaming someone who doesn’t feel comfortable returning to church, to work, or to society because they are in a high-risk group; we are called to prudence. However, if we give the impression that the only way to be loving is to watch church at home, to keep our businesses closed, to wear a mask everywhere, and to support the governing authorities’ every decision, we may not be giving the full picture. Isn’t it also loving to visit the sick (provided we are healthy and not caregivers for others in a high-risk group), to contribute to our neighbors’ livelihoods by utilizing their businesses, to contribute to society with meaningful work, to uphold truth, to confront error, and to preserve our countrymen’s God-given rights?
  6. Do our actions show favoritism to any person or group? It seems that we are listening to the counsel of some medical professionals but not others. There are plenty of solid medical personnel, some of whom use conventional medicine and others who use alternative methods, who say that the recommended measures are inaccurate and even counterproductive. Even though many are using recent data or reliable research to verify their stance, not only are they being discounted, many are effectively being silenced, because their recommendations don’t fit the prevailing narrative put forth by many in government and the mainstream media. We also seem to be showing favoritism to those vulnerable from a health standpoint, to the exclusion of those vulnerable from an economic or spiritual standpoint.
  7. What is the highest authority in our country or state? It is not the president or governor, and it definitely isn’t any worldwide organization or philanthropist. The Constitution guides our government, and the government is “by the people, of the people, and for the people.” Who are the people? The citizens of this country. When governors, presidents, legislators, or judges violate the Constitution, we need to question whether obedience is necessary. If we follow the Constitution, we are not breaking the law, even if we are told that we are.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, a masterpiece of logic, morality, and theological exposition, as applied to the issue of segregation is the source of the famous words, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Do you know the audience of this letter? Dr. King addressed this apologetic for “civil disobedience” to white pastors who thought he had gone too far by encouraging his followers to break the law. He echoed Augustine, saying that an “unjust law is no law at all.” He said that a just law is in harmony with moral law, that any law that degrades human personality is unjust. We must ask ourselves if quarantining the healthy is in harmony with moral law. We must consider whether destroying people’s livelihoods, keeping them from attending church, and imposing social isolation, especially in the midst of compelling evidence that this virus isn’t a serious threat to otherwise healthy people, is the correct coarse of action.

Pastors and other Christian leaders are called to be countercultural. We are to obey the authority placed over us, but in this country our highest authority is the Constitution, which was primarily written from a Biblical worldview. The Apostle Paul appealed to Caesar in the face of injustice; in America, the equivalent would be to appeal to the Constitution. Our Constitution says that nobody should prohibit the free exercise of religion, of speech, the press, or the right to peaceably assemble (Amendment I). Furthermore, “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Amendment XIV).

Some of you live in open states, and may wonder what all the fuss is about. Churches in Washington State and Minnesota have unjustly been kept from operating, and many still fear government reprisal. This morning, the Chicago mayor was reported to have sent police to shut down a church gathering in her city. Churches, daycares, and small businesses in Kentucky have far too many restrictions to practically operate. Everywhere the mainstream media mafia perpetuates fear and censors informed citizens in an attempt to control the narrative.

Christians, we must not be silent. Pastors, part of your calling is to admonish the flock according to Scripture and to equip us for participation in all spheres of life, including the media and the government. Please challenge us to speak into the culture, rather than to assimilate. Please give us permission not to be nice, but rather to be holy and effective at fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Please activate us in the spiritual war that has the whole world in its grip. Please don’t sit down and shut your doors. Please don’t bow to those who rule unjustly, no matter how “well-intentioned” they may seem. Please bow only to God, and refuse to allow His commands to be twisted into irrelevance.

In the words of Dr. King, “it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends … it is just as wrong, or even more, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” Let us be neither complacent, nor arrogant. Let us not use our liberty as an excuse for sin, but also let us not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. We were bought with a price. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. Let us walk in that freedom, for the good of our country and our fellow countryman.

We Have Sinned

Dear Lord,

You have said, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).”

Father, we, your children, have sinned. We, the church, have abdicated our responsibility to speak into the culture, preferring to blend in instead. We have allowed the religion of secular humanism to infiltrate our culture. We have allowed our children to be carried off to “Babylon,” a culture that says, “I am, and there is no other (Isaiah 47:8).” We have allowed ourselves to become complacent and entitled, believing that the world exists to serve us. We have devalued human life of many kinds, allowing the unborn to be slaughtered, the immigrant to be mistreated, those of other races to be abused, and the disabled to be devalued.

We have voted for people according to economics, rather than character. We have taken your Word and prayer out of our schools and the public square. We have given lip service to prayer. We have neglected to disciple our children according to your Word.

We have forgotten our first love, and have grown cold and self-absorbed. We have bowed down to many idols, including money, power, ease, comfort, and pleasure. We spend more time on our phones and computers than on in-person relationships. We have allowed our society to become sexualized and violent. We see people as objects. We play games, watch movies, and listen to music full of sex and gratuitous violence. We waste much of our time on mindless entertainment. We have allowed our children to absorb it all.

We lie to one another, cheat each other, steal from each other, and talk badly about each other. Instead of going directly to each other in loving confrontation of sin, we gossip and slander. We justify ourselves under the guise of venting or making prayer requests.

We no longer value marriage and family. Instead, we stand by and watch as others trample these institutions that were entrusted to us by God. We worry that if we speak up we will seem intolerant or culturally irrelevant.

We shrink back from boldly declaring your Word, and blindly believe that we must not speak up because of the supposed “separation of church and state.” We prefer to offend You, our creator and just judge, rather than risk offending our fellow man. We turn a blind eye to others who claim to be Christian while living like the world.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled to sleep by the design of secular humanists, and have given the sleeping potion to our children by allowing them to attend schools that teach them that You don’t exist, or that if you do, You are irrelevant. We have allowed them to be given atheistic sex education and taught that they descended from primordial goo. We have allowed them to be programmed to follow their hearts and to do whatever makes them happy, “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” What about You, Lord? Sin hurts You. You gave us Your Son, who lived perfectly and died a horrific death for these very sins. His death and resurrection alone save us, yet we flippantly allow His Name to be used as a common curse word. We don’t even flinch anymore when Your Name is taken in vain.

We have forsaken Your design for marriage. We have created unstable families for our children. We have preferred to make a name for ourselves than to invest personally in our children. We have not corrected our children’s disobedience.

We have created idols of athletes, actors, musicians, and philanthropists. We have enthroned people who have money, power, and influence, regardless of their faith, values, or actions. We have dismissed scandals in our leaders, because we idolize the economy and pragmatically vote for Supreme Court nominations. We overlook character defects in favor of policies. We have created false messiahs in our government officials. We have not called those into account who claim to follow You, minimizing their sin, because we believe they are benefitting us.

We sit by, fattening ourselves up on our riches, while much of the world lives in unfit conditions, and many are marginalized, mutilated, and slaughtered. We believe we are entitled to live long and prosper, neglecting to consider that much of the world truly must pray for their daily bread. We believe we deserve honor and abundance while others languish in life and die without Christ.

We have bought into the lie that government can solve our problems. We have tried to treat this worldwide crisis as something we can solve with the right brain power, techniques, policies, and vaccines. But we cannot! We need you to heal our land. We need you to heal the coronavirus, but more than that, we need you to heal our pride, our obstinacy, our apathy, our faithlessness, and our selfishness. We need you to heal our families, our government, our schools and our churches.

I need You to heal me. We all need You to heal us. We are so independent, self-sufficient, and content in our sin that have a form of godliness but we deny your power (2 Timothy 3:5).

You have said, “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (James 4:2-3).

Lord, where our motives are tainted, purify us. I pray for a revival, the likes of which the world has never seen. I pray that we would wake up from our slumber so that the “new normal” we keep hearing about is Your new normal. I pray You defeat the enemy and his purposes, that many more may come to know You and to glorify Your Name. I pray you have mercy on us for our great sins, for the sake of those who don’t yet know you, and for the sake of Your glorious Name.

You are the Great I Am, the First and the Last, the Living God. We are your people. We humble ourselves. We ask you to heal our land.

On behalf of the church in America, I ask this in Jesus Precious and Holy Name, Amen!

If you would like to add to this prayer, you may post it in the comments. Any other comments will not be posted, as this is a prayer addressed to the Lord. This post is not for airing opinions or arguments. If you do not know the Lord and would like to turn your life over to Him, and have questions about that, or want to leave a comment for me, please fill out the contact form below.  

 

Judge not … ?

By Heather Walton

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 ESV)

This is probably the most well-known verse in all of scripture. Why? Because people inherently like to justify themselves and their behavior. If a Christian confronts sin, this Bible verse inevitably glides smoothly off someone’s tongue in hasty rebuke, in an attempt to shame the messenger into silence. How dare you? is the implication. Don’t you know Jesus told us not to judge one another? We all sin; you just prefer your own brand of sin. 

Here’s the problem with that logic: Most people know the first part of Matthew 7:1, and some know all the way through the end of verse 3, but many neglect what comes next:

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:4-5 ESV)

Notice here that Jesus said to remove your own log, meaning do everything you can to be right with God and free from sin (albeit not perfect), and then yes, remove the speck from your brother’s eye. So if you have some glaring sin problem in your life (log) then get that straight before criticizing your brother for a smaller infraction (speck). So Jesus wasn’t, in fact, telling us we are not to judge at all, but that we’re not to be hypocritical, which in the Greek carried the idea of acting. In essence, I’m not to live a phony life, acting the part of a Christian, while I have this glaring area of sin in my life, and then call a believer out for some small behavior that pales in comparison with my own issues.

In Matthew 18, we’re told to confront our brother or sister who is caught in sin. We should do so first between the two of us, next with a witness, and lastly we should bring our concern to the church. (This doesn’t apply to every situation, by the way, but it does to most.) This passage is for dealing with a brother caught in sin, which could mean they wronged us personally or that they simply were, as the text states, caught in sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, believers are specifically told to judge those inside the church who are sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, idolaters, revilers, drunkards or swindlers. Paul stated that God would judge those outside the church, but commanded Christians to hold one another accountable. He went so far to say, “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13b ESV). Believers were not even to eat with someone who called himself a Christian, yet had blatant sin in his life.

It is a lie from the pit of hell that we are not ever to judge anyone for anything. As Christians, we should not be shocked when an unbeliever lives a sinful lifestyle. We should instead lovingly show him the truth and share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), challenging him to accept Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-11), and discipling him toward a Biblical lifestyle (Matthew 28:18-20). However, when someone claims to be a Christ-follower, we are commanded to lovingly and truthfully call him out, not out of self-satisfaction, but out of love, out of a desire for his benefit, that He may repent for his good and God’s glory.

This is not comfortable. I have found myself needing to confront brothers and sisters on multiple occasions, and I never enjoy it. I generally feel some anxiety over it. I do it because I must. On a handful of occasions, I’ve spoken out about public officials’ behavior. (I’ve written about officials on both sides of the aisle.) I know these people already have been confronted about their sin, yet they continue. I do not expect these types of posts to go over well with everyone, yet I share them, believing God wants me to speak up about injustice, rather than to stay silent.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?” 
(Proverbs 24:11-12)

In Ezekiel 3, the prophet was told to be a watchman for Israel, delivering messages to those whom God directed. He was to warn the wicked and the righteous if they were not in God’s will, to change their ways. If he did, and they didn’t listen, he would be blameless, but if he shied away from sharing the truth that God told him to share, he would have their blood on his hands.

Therefore, when God lays it on my heart that I’m to address someone about sin, I know I shouldn’t shy away. I don’t like doing it, but there’s nothing in Scripture that says I’m only to do what I feel like doing. Knowing others will judge me, as they tell me not to judge, I do it anyway, in obedience to the Judge who is above all judges, and with whom I will spend eternity.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 ESV)