What does liberty cost? And if you knew how to get it, what would you be willing to give for it?
Many today mistakenly put their trust in countries, governments, leaders, organizations, or other human entities. People all over the world have joined the ranks of Q-anon and other groups that believe President Trump has the solutions for the world’s problems. Many worry that if he is not in power, the whole world will cave in to the New World Order, democracy will be lost, that socialism will overtake us, and that all will be lost. I do believe we are headed for socialism, as well as the end times. I do believe that we are moving toward one world government and the rise of the antichrist and the beast system. While we are likely going to lose many freedoms, our republic, and perhaps even our lives, that doesn’t mean we will lose our liberty.
Does that sound ludicrous?
Look at it this way:
No matter who is in the White House, God is on His throne. No matter what goes on in Washington, heaven’s purposes will be fulfilled. Sometimes things seem really bad, and sometimes they truly are, but keep in mind that, for the Christ-follower, our heavenly citizenship overrides our national citizenship. Jesus is preparing a place for us that is so much better than anything here on earth. Our Savior has already come and will return one day. No mere man can save us. No mere man can save America or the world. No kingdom can rise or fall without God’s permission. If America falls, and I believe it will, it will be because God has allowed it, and perhaps even purposed it. Things are not always as they appear. If your hope has been in any man but Christ, perhaps today is the day for that to change. If you do not yet know Jesus as Lord, today could be the best day to become part of His family.
One thing 2020 did for me was to loosen my grip on this world and its grip on me. I am a patriot, but I have become deeply aware that my true citizenship is in heaven, and I have come to long for the day I arrive there.
There is much in this world to grieve us, but it’s time to let go, to go through the grief process, and to accept that no man can be our savior and that no country is invincible.
Without a personal relationship with Jesus, we have no hope. This life is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity, so we need to be sure our eternity is secure. Nothing matters otherwise.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul? Nothing — nothing is worth spending an eternity of regret.
None of us know what the future will hold or how much time we have on this earth. If you don’t know the Lord, please put your trust in Him today. If you do know Him, please spend every last breath and ounce of energy urging others to repent and put their trust in Christ. There is nothing more vital.
Persecution is coming to the church. Whether we have a week or ten years to openly worship and to share the Gospel, we need to use that time to the fullest.
And if you’re putting off a decision for Christ, you may find yourself suddenly standing before God and realizing that it’s too late. We all are sinners. Hell is real. Heaven is too. Jesus wants to forgive your sins and be in charge of your life, but you need to acknowledge your sinfulness, accept him as Lord (Master), agree that you want to change, and put all your trust in Him. Otherwise, you remain lost in your sins and on the road to hell.
True liberty comes from finding freedom in Christ. When your sins are forgiven, and you have a relationship with the living God, no matter what griefs come in this lifetime, the assurance of eternity with God in heaven is enough.
Perhaps America must fall in order for Christ to be lifted up in the world, or even in our lives. Perhaps men need to be brought down off their pedestals, that those who have put their hope in them may give up their idolatry and turn their eyes on Jesus, the author of liberty and our only true hope. If the “Land of the Free” must fall in order for us to understand true liberty, so be it.
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Today perhaps we should say, “Give me death (to my hopes and desires), that I may understand and enjoy true liberty.”
This has been the worst year ever! COVID. Civil Unrest. Economic Collapse. Isolation. Shortages. Uncertainty. How can I be thankful?
Let’s remember that that the Apostle Paul admonished us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Paul had been through many tough things, including persecution, imprisonment, beatings, loss of friendship, anguish over the trials of the church, shipwreck, hunger, nakedness, and more.
It’s interesting that this admonition came in the midst of Paul’s teaching about the Day of the Lord. Prior to this verse about thanksgiving, Paul shared with the Thessalonian church that they were not to worry about those who had died missing the Lord’s return, and not to worry that those on the earth would miss it either. He also told them not to worry about when this would happen; instead, he focused them on how to live in the meantime.
He urged them to have self-control, to show brotherly love, to mind their own business, to encourage one another, to work, and to abstain from evil. He encouraged them to be at peace, to pray, to rejoice and give thanks. He told them not to quench the Spirit or to despise prophecies. His message was one of hope, peace, and unity.
And all of it came from the heart of a man who, by our standards of peace and safety, had a rough life. Not just a rough year. Decades of difficulty.
This man admonished us to live out our faith by being thankful in all circumstances. No exceptions.
This year has been challenging for everyone. Nobody has been exempt from the effects of the worldwide crises taking place in 2020, and it’s highly probable that 2021 will bring surprises and hardships of its own. Yet I am thankful.
I’m thankful for all the “good” things, of course — things like God, family, friends, shelter, food, and meaningful work. But it goes deeper than that this year.
I’m thankful for a lot of things I previously took for granted — things like toilet paper and gatherings with friends. But it goes deeper than that this year.
I’m thankful for the ability to creatively do things I used to do differently — things like teaching and tutoring online, grocery delivery, and curbside pickup. But it goes deeper than that this year.
I’m thankful for the hard things, the bad things, the irritating things:
I’m thankful for the lockdown that brought my family home full-time and gave us time together that we never would have had otherwise, that taught us that we really don’t need nearly as much outside our four walls as we had thought.
I’m thankful for our tyrannical governor, who has shown me how precious our freedoms are and given us a chance to realize that liberty is worth fighting for, that it is precious and should not be taken lightly.
I’m thankful that Joe Biden appears to have won the election, because perhaps now evangelicals will take their eyes off a perceived political “savior” and turn their eyes on the one-and-only true Messiah.
I’m thankful for the refining of the church, in which the true believers will come through stronger, and those who were just playing church are faced with making their faith real or simply walking away. This crisis has clarified allegiances and values.
I’m thankful for the remnant community I’ve been united with in brotherly love, and I’m looking forward to what the Lord is going to do through this group of believers.
I’m thankful that I’ve been drawn to search the Scriptures much more fervently, looking to see when the Lord may return, and how to live in the meantime.
I’m thankful for a greater awareness of the socialistic, humanistic assault on God-given liberty and the understanding of the demonic forces behind it.
I’m thankful that the uncertainty and unrest has made me much less attached to this world and increasingly aware of my heavenly citizenship.
Today we remember a group of Pilgrims and a group of Native Americans who came together, though they had many differences, and gave thanks to God for the simple provision of food, which allowed them to live just a little longer. May we be thankful for the simple things as well. May we be thankful for the good things, the things previously taken for granted, the ability to creatively do things differently, and yes, even the hard, bad, and irritating things.
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.
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.
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.
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.