What to Do with Evil News

by Dan Crabtree,The Cripplegate

The Puritan Thomas Watson said during the morning exercises at the Cripplegate, “John the Baptist’s head on a platter is a common dish nowadays.”

“Nowadays” was the embattled era of the English Civil War, but it could just as well be today or any other day. Church history records more dark years than halcyon days. Persecution, slander, and mistreatment has always been par for the Christian course. Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33), and he meant it. Heads are still on the menu.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you’ve been on your phone or computer scrolling through all kinds of articles and videos. I don’t know your Internet habits, but here we are. So, what did you see while you were scrolling? Mostly good news? Encouragement? Rejoicing in the happy providences of God?

Or did you see another exposé on a disgraced evangelical leader? Or news about another church service turned into a shooting gallery? Or a catalogue of another church that’s left the Bible far behind? (And those were just the Christian sites.)

Brothers and sisters, we are surrounded with bad news about the evil that permeates this world. Given the dominance of Satan’s handiwork in the headlines, it would be so easy to despair. To get angry. To embitter. To whip someone online with a fresh one-liner because you’ve just had enough.

But King David has a better way for us. In his waning years, David penned Psalm 37 to help his people sing even when “the wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him” (Ps 37:12). And his wisdom can teach us how to respond rightly to all kinds of wickedness in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, or even on our screens.

  1. Don’t worry about evil news.

David’s psalm begins, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” Meaning, don’t get worked up about the existence of evil on this earth. You know this is part of post-Fall life, so expect it and don’t get wrecked by it. Don’t let it make you angry, don’t let it provoke you, don’t let it cause you to despair, and don’t get consumed by it. David makes this even clearer in verse 8 when he says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” David is saying, “Don’t let evil make you evil!” Instead, “Turn away from evil and do good” (v. 27). Responding to evil in-kind accomplishes nothing of lasting worth, so instead meet fire with a cool glass of water and so “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

As a pastor, it’s heartbreaking to see the sheep under your care drowning in despair from the 6 o’clock news. As a sheep myself, I’m tempted to be overwhelmed by it all, too. But David exhorts us to swim against the current, to keep our heads above water, to not become emotionally engulfed by the actions of evil men and women and the pain they inflict on others. Sinners will sin. That reality must not own us.

Practically, avoiding anxiety about current events may look like ingesting less evil news. You might delete a news app, put the phone away at home, check the news less often, or maybe even take a break from seeking out any digital source of news altogether. Here’s a baseline principle – if it’s causing you to sin more, then don’t do it. Jesus said something about plucking out eyes, right? Our newsfeeds may also need some plucking. Only allow it into your brain if you can respond to it in a godly way. That means don’t worry.

  1. Enjoy Jesus despite evil news.

Most people are familiar with Psalm 37 because of verse 4 which reads, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This is not some magic prosperity formula (sorry Joel Osteen) but a diagnostic about the primary temptation that evil news contains. The worst effect that the sin of other people can have in your life is to steal your joy in Jesus. Seriously. They can kill you, but that’s gain for the Christian (Phil 1:21). They can take your stuff, but that will only make you rely more on God (2 Cor 1:9; Heb 10:34). They could even say horrendous things on the Internet, but not one letter of it can alter your eternal inheritance in Christ!

It might sound like a Christian cop-out to say, “When the world is burning, rejoice in Christ!” but that’s what David says. And Paul says it too: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Why do these godly men Jesus-juke in the face of untold wickedness? Because when we delight ourselves in the Lord, “he will give you the desires of your heart.” That is, when our hearts on set on treasuring Jesus, then we get Jesus. And whatever else we get; we get more of Jesus. This verse doesn’t turn God into a vending machine for material blessing but reminds us that God is the fountain of all good things (James 1:17). When we come to him to be satisfied, he always gives us more of him, and we’re always satisfied in him with whatever he hands us. That’s Paul’s secret to contentment, even in the face of radical, horrific evils (Phil 4:13). And it ought to be ours, too.

For me, this means that the headlines become my prayer line. When I hear about another church bombing or insurgent attack or celebrated sin, I throw my eyes upward, cry out for mercy, and find the ear of the God of all comfort. My sadness turns to worship when I take it to the Lord in prayer. And worship is what my heart most delights in because I was made to praise Jesus.

  1. Trust God with evil news.

You probably saw this one coming. When things are bad, God’s in control, etc. Amen and amen. But David’s logic in this psalm gets more specific than that. The reason that you should trust God with evil news is that God will judge all of it.

God’s just condemnation of evil takes up the bulk of this psalm and makes up David’s main argument. Why shouldn’t you be envious of evildoers? “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (v. 2). Why should you lay every thought and plan at the foot of God’s throne? Because “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday” (v. 6). “Evildoers shall be cut off…” (v. 9), “in just a little while, the wicked will be no more…” (v. 10), and “the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming” (v. 13). Over and over again throughout this psalm, David contrasts the fate of the evil with the righteous. Though “transgressors shall be altogether destroyed” (v. 38), “the salvation of the righteous is from Yahweh, he is their stronghold in the time of trouble” (v. 39).

That means I don’t have to settle accounts because God will! I can “leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). My part is not to bring final judgment but to trust the perfect Judge. He’ll deal with all evil either on the cross or in the lake of fire, so I can rest in his righteous accounting.

And fellow believer, do not doubt that God is an exacting accountant. He will bring every wicked act in the nightly news before the bar of his holy wrath and pronounce the sentence it deserves. Evil may carry the day, but it will not carry that day. A time is coming soon when there will be no more evil news but only the good news of the gospel and God’s saving work will remain.

Trust God until then. Darkness may have its hour. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8:11). But it’s only an hour. “They will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet 4:5). Evil news, as David says, will pass away like smoke and then righteousness will reign for eternity. And so will we (Rev 22:5).

So, it may be worthwhile to cut the cable, put down the phone, and replace the dreary headlines with Scripture memory and sermons and fellowship. I know it’s helped me. It certainly will be worthwhile to press on to make Christ your own in prayer and Bible study, as it always will. But whatever evil news you encounter, believer, trust in the invisible hand of Providence behind it, guiding every morning and evening to the dawn of an eternal day. “Trust in him, and he will act” (v. 5).

Source: What to do with evil news | The Cripplegate

For the Times They are A-changin’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was right in 1964, when he wrote that song, and he’s still right. In fact, the times are always changing, for better or worse. In 2021, we live in an especially ‘interesting’ time of change in our nation. It seems that academia (all levels), modern culture, and institutions are wholeheartedly embracing ideologies and policies contrary to their essential purposes in providing goods, services, and entertainment. Some of these ideologies and policies are contrary to a Christian worldview and blatantly oppose Divine moral law and support that which God terms “abomination”. Those who stand against the tide are losing friends, their reputations, their livelihoods, and much more. We live in what’s called a “cancel culture.” I’m certain, that if it were possible, those who try to “cancel” everything and everyone opposing them would also try and cancel God.

Furthermore, every facet and level of our society is being impacted by the ever-increasing moral decay and lawlessness we see all around us. Legislation, rules, regulations, and policies have been written to ‘engourage’ us to ‘behave’. Unbelievers and nonconformists will be persecuted and/or punished! That includes everyone, no matter what their function in society, their religious persuasion, their age, and anything else you can think of.

How do we, as Christians, respond to our ‘anti-God’ culture? That’s our challenge.

On one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun. The world’s operating system has always been at odds with Christianity and Christians have always been under pressure to conform to the world’s ungodly standards. Jesus even told his closest followers:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

What appears to be a rather recent development however, is the speed and manner in which we are being brought into submission to what seems like a “new world order”, as evidenced by all of the legislation, regulations, rules (corporate, institutional, and social) being enacted to cause us to conform.

So, how are we to respond? I can think of a few principles that will help us in that regard.

First, remember the source of our strength to combat evil, our battle ‘dress’, and the ‘situation’ on the battlefield:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10 – 12)

As believers, with whom are we to be engaged in battle? Are we to be contesting with men, or with the spiritual forces behind their machinations? What’s the Christian’s end game?

Secondly, remember the purpose of our wearing the whole armor of God, and the ultimate goal of our warfare.

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”(Eph 6:13)

We are to “stand our ground” and live out our Biblical principles in an increasingly hostile environment. We can also lovingly, gently, and with respect, present the Christian worldview to whomever provides us an opportunity, and in whatever format that presents itself.

Finally, remember our primary mission for this life. In a parable at the home of Zacchaeus, a tax collector in Jericho, Jesus said:

“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’’’ (Luke 19:12 – 13)

The nobleman in the parable gave money to his servants and told them “Do business till I come.” I love that phrase! I don’t know about you, but it excites me! In our case, Jesus is the nobleman in the far country (planet Earth) and we are his servants. So what is the “business” of Jesus?

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

No matter what our main occupation or situation in life might be, we are to be about the business of the gospel, proclaiming it and making disciples. We are to be about ‘investing’ the gospel in our own lives and in the lives of others. We should be continuously growing in our own knowledge of God and His Son, sitting under sound Biblical teaching, and at the same time pointing the lost around us to the Cross of Christ and helping other believers grow in their faith.

Sharing the Gospel message in a lost and dying world is the greatest privilege God has bestowed upon his children!

Let’s “do business” until He returns, as we pray “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Beth Moore apologizes for role in elevating complementarianism – The Christian Post

One month after announcing her departure from the Southern Baptist Convention, Beth Moore has apologized for her role in elevating complementarian theology to a “matter of 1st importance.”
— Read on www.christianpost.com/news/beth-moore-apologizes-for-role-in-elevating-complementarianism.html

An interesting article on several levels that deserves thoughtful consideration.

Huffpost Blames Christian Education for Capitol Riots

– Courtesy of the Christian Post, By Adam Rondeau, Emory Thompson, and Angel Parrish, Op-ed Contributors

HuffPost blaming Christian curriculum for Capitol riots is slanderous

Recently the Huffington Post ran an article that was extremely hostile to Christian education here in the United States. The overall implication of the article was that the January 6 rioting at the Capitol building was directly tied to the government allowing and possibly funding conservative Christian education in the US.  Specific curricula were cited and quoted (specifically, A-Beka, Bob Jones and Accelerated Christian Education) and blame was explicitly and carelessly lobbied at these schools and curriculum.

“Their religion-centered, anti-Democrat, anti-science, anti-multicultural message mirrors the Christian nationalism seen at the U.S. Capitol riot.”[1]

Such brash and unfair bias cannot go unanswered. The overwhelming majority of schools using these curricula are highly civic-minded American patriots. They love God and their country and deplore violence of any kind. Painting an entire demographic with a wide brush based on hear-say alone is slanderous. It is also disingenuous. The year 2020 was filled with leftist progressives rioting and looting all over the country in response to their own perceived inequities, yet none of that is alluded to in the Huffington Post article. If the author was seeking to be equitable, would she not have to acknowledge the possibility that government schools and their curriculum might bear some blame for those riots? Indeed the article concludes with just the opposite reaction.

The following statement from the article claims to have intellectual authority but is severely lacking in credulity.

“Scholars say textbooks like these, with their alternate versions of history and emphasis on Christian national identity, represent one small part of the conditions that lead to events like last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, an episode that was permeated with the symbols of Christian nationalism.”[2]

Exactly who are these scholars that the author is referring to? There are no footnotes or cited sources for this particular example, and of the three “scholars” quoted within this article, only one implies this thought process. Therefore, the reader’s only recourse is to give full trust to the statements of the author or practice intellectual independence and question the statements and opinions as presented. We choose the latter.

Linking terrorism to Christian education and its biblical worldview being communicated is grossly misleading. Consider Franklin Graham and the work of Samaritan’s Purse, which has helped countless suffering and needy people in the US and abroad. It is the same worldview that these schools and curricula seek to advance.  American students using the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum annually donate to the BLESS outreach, which sponsors literacy programs in third-world countries, giving thousands of children the opportunity for advancement through education. Consider a very large Florida Christian school that utilizes A Beka and Bob Jones curricula, and funnels all the profit from that school and a thrift shop to help to fund a completely free medical clinic, two homeless shelters, and a food pantry. These are only a few examples. Conservative Christians and their churches and schools are not promoting or involved in riotous activity, but rather in activities that fulfill the Greatest Commandment to love God and neighbor. Students are taught to be contributing members of society who work for the common good of the nation around them.  This is an accurate representation of conservative Christian education in America.

A Clash of Worldviews

At its core this article is about a clash of worldviews. The author is a committed progressive and is defending her ideology. She feels that conservative Christian schools are seeking to undermine evolution and far-left progressive policies and therefore attempts to expose them as such. And this we have in common with her because Christians feel the same exact way. Why? Because it is true. This is the clash of worldviews that the apostle Paul so brilliantly contrasts in 1 Corinthians 2:14.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Conservative Christians can and most certainly have gone through the curriculum of the government schools and point out all the issues that we have with the worldview being presented. Whether it be evolutionary history[3], radical revisions of history (i.e., the 1619 Project), sex-education curriculum developed by Planned Parenthood, transgender and homosexual ideology, etc., etc., etc. But that would be a relatively futile tit-for-tat approach.

The most fundamental issue at stake is that progressives are now openly contending that one worldview is dangerous and are laying a foundation for the ostracization of the religious freedoms of anyone who disagrees.

Freedom of Speech First Requires Freedom of Thought

Those Christians that believe they have a responsibility to educate their child with a biblical worldview cannot consider public education a valid option. The courts have been clear over the years that there is no freedom of religion in a public school, nor is there freedom of speech for students or teachers regarding content that contradicts their sincerely held religious beliefs. Here are just some examples from the past 30 years.

  1. 1990 Webster v. New Lennox School District (7th Circuit Court of Appeals). School districts may prohibit a teacher from teaching creation science. It further states that this is not a violation of a teacher’s freedom of speech.
  2. 2000 – Minnesota State Court rules that there is no right for a teacher to present evidence both for and against the theory of evolution. This means that teachers are not allowed to question evolution in their own classroom.
  3. 2005 – US District Court refused to allow a school district to put disclaimer labels on textbooks regarding evolution being a “theory” and that other theories existed, including intelligent design and creation.  It was appealed. The appeal resulted in the schools agreeing not to denigrate evolution either orally or in written form.
  4. 2005 – US Court ruled that schools could not maintain an Intelligent Design policy. Judge stated that Intelligent Design “is not science and cannot be adjudged a valid, accepted scientific theory as it has failed to publish in peer-reviewed journals, engage in research and testing, and gain acceptance in the scientific community.”

It is of great concern that the Huffington Post (and they are not alone in this sentiment) considers the worldview of conservative Christians as dangerous and worthy of suppression. The tone of the article is clear that Christian education in the United States is a danger to our democracy. For example, a previous student of a Christian school was interviewed and the following summation was offered:

Last week’s insurrectionists could have been her classmates, her teachers, her pastors. She felt a wave of recognition as she watched the pictures on social media.[4]

One of the grossest misrepresentations is embodied in this quote:

“That whole belief system revolves around the idea that you want the rest of the world to think like you,” said Garman, who is now a social worker. “It’s a ‘the ends justify the means’ type of thing.”[5]

But isn’t the whole point of the article that the author takes issue with the way conservative Christian educators think? That their worldview is inferior and dangerous? Doesn’t she intimate that allowing this thinking to continue is dangerous to our society? It’s the same old progressive logical fallacy – tolerance is only extended to those that agree with them.

Perhaps the greatest danger to our first amendment right of free speech are the intellectual chains that are being forged around minds. If there is not freedom of thought then there cannot really be any freedom of speech. Consider these words from Richard Dawkins, arguably one of the secularist’s most staunch apologists:

“How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods? Isn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought out?” [6]

Do Christian parents still have freedom of thought and speech to impart those beliefs to their children? So long as America is a free nation they do, but it is quite clear that the secular, progressive worldview would like to eliminate those freedoms.

The Real Threat

Christian education is not a threat to the safety and well-being of our democracy nor is it a driver of terrorist threats. The real threat of Christian education is that it provides a viable alternative to the progressive worldview, and that terrifies the left. Their philosophies, which are built upon the sand of humanism, are so fragile that they cannot allow anyone to counter them.

So how should Christian education respond? In faith – that which overcomes the world. Hebrews 11 reminds us that we can obtain a good testimony in this world through faith. The examples presented in Scripture are the basis of our worldview and must set the example for our response.  We continue in the course set before us, teaching what we know to be right.  We continue to set the example that we believe in a Sovereign God to preserve our thoughts and belief, regardless of opposition.  We continue to teach by example our love for fellow man, kindness for those around us, compassion for the hurting.  We respond with the faith that brought us to this place, believing that God can do the work we cannot.  We continue to believe that the Bible is not just a book, but the very Word of God.  We can’t fight the powers of progressivism through words and legislation; they are not our weapons.  We have the same power of prayer and faith that we started with.  Opposition is not new. Christian education must stay faithful to the mission of communicating a Biblical worldview to the next generation. Because if the real threat to humanism is the Truth we believe in, it is all we have.


[1] Klein, R. (2021). These Textbooks In Thousands Of K-12 Schools Echo Trump’s Talking Points. Huffington Post. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/christian-textbooks-trump-capitol-riot_n_6000bce3c5b62c0057bb711f

[2] IBID

[3] See Evolution Exposed: Biology from Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/store/product/evolution-exposed-biology/?sku=10-2-261&

[4] Klein, R. (2021)

[5] IBID

[6] Cited by Ken Ham and Greg Hall, Already Compromised, Master Books, June 2011; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusions (Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin, 2006, 2008), p. 315

Dr. Adam Rondeau has served as a Christian educator and administrator as well as a pastor for over two decades. He is an author, adjunct professor of the Bible and currently serves as the director of ViewPoint Christian Academy in Southbridge, Massachusetts as well as the Assistant Administrative Director of Global Christian Educators Association. He holds three earned degrees in Christian Education, Theology and Leadership.

Emory Thompson is the Administrative Director of Global Christian Educators Association with experience working for a Christian curriculum company. A fourth-generation preacher, he has a heart for Christian Education and for the people of the world. He is senior pastor of Golden Mountain Ministries in Sparta, Tennessee.

Angel Parrish is a Christian educator, writer, and editor living in The Villages, Florida. She has written curriculum for several Christian and conservative education companies for 25 years.  She is the Director of Educational Services for Global Christian Educators Association.

The Rest of the Passage. . .

image

A familiar verse indeed, and a tremendous reminder that we, as Christians need to pray with humble and repentant hearts! Not only that, when we pray humbly with repentant hearts, God promises to heal our land!

I confess that, like many others, I too have used this verse to claim healing for the nation, at least until I read it in its original context, and more specifically, verse 13. Here are verses 13 and 14 together.

13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13 -14)

We like to read and interpret 2 Chron 7:14 as if it’s a standalone verse, when it’s actually a secondary clause that completes a thought begin in 13! I consulted multiple translations and paraphrases and they all presented both verses as a single thought from God (even The Message), with a connecting punctuation mark, connecting word, or both. Let’s look at the verses again from the ESV, with a particular emphasis on two words;

13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13 -14) (Emphasis mine)

So what’s going on here?

God is speaking and telling the Israelites that when he (God) does certain things and if his chosen people (the Israelites) do certain things, he (God) will heal their land. God takes direct responsibility for drought, devouring locusts and infectious disease, as well as healing the nation. If/when the Israelites continued in their sin and idolatry, they would be punished (See Deuteronomy 28 & the book of Judges for the covenant principle).

What can we learn here, if anything? At the bare minimum:

1. 2 Chron 7:13-14 is ‘descriptive’ about the (old) covenant relationship between God and Israel, and not ‘prescriptive’ for believers living under the new covenant in Christ.

2. God actually “sends” some pretty harsh ‘stuff’ when he punishes his disobedient and rebellious children; he doesn’t just “allow” things to happen.

3. Even if this passage of scripture could be applied to NT believers, the good stuff (healing the nation) comes after some really tough times.

4. We who call ourselves Christians love the good stuff and tend to ignore the stuff we want no part of. (See also Jeremiah 29:11, but this time pay attention to the context).

Feel free to comment

Persecution: The New Reality for Biblical Christianity in America

January 8, 2021 by Jack Lee

Patheos Evangelical Blog: Chorus in the Chaos

When news spread that Republicans lost the Presidency, House, and Senate, a friend texted me “our country is gone.” Driving the comment is the anticipation of the anti-Christian ideals that will be surely pushed for legislation in coming years by the new, liberal administration. Specifically, and to avoid undue criticism, I am referring to lawmaking that will directly impact issues like abortion, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, gay marriage, birth control, euthanasia, and the list goes on. After a moment of consideration, I replied to my friend that he was mistaken. If we are honest with ourselves, we lost our country 50 or so years ago when the church rolled over and allowed liberalism to plant itself within our higher education systems. After that, it was only a matter of time. Such concessions have changed the moral standard of what is culturally permissible and opened biblical Christianity in America to persecution.

American Christians, who desire to live godly, conservative, biblically-oriented lives, need to prepare themselves and their families for suffering. The writing has been on the wall for some time, decades even, yet the church has done little to stop it. Instead, like a row of dominoes, she has fallen over on issue after issue. The church has watched while influential institutions and religious leaders denied the miracles of Jesus, rejected the inerrancy of scripture, allowed for abortifacient birth control methods, legalized abortion, endorsed gay marriage, and even embraced critical race theory. Additionally, we have witnessed far too many “celebrity pastors” commit moral failures through affairs and sexual abuse.

Even so, my point here is not to recount and lament the failings of the modern church. Instead, I aim to look ahead and address the question: considering such moral collapses, what do we do now? Or, as the title of the book, by Charles Colson, on Christian worldview asks, How Now Shall We Live?  Although volumes could be written as an answer to this question, for the sake of this article, I am going to focus on 3 practical things Christians can do to prepare for the “brave” new world of persecution that is forming around us.

To begin, I want to encourage believers to focus and remember who we are in Christ. It is a wonderful truth that regardless of a Christian’s circumstances, we have just and ample reason to rejoice. Catechisms and Confessions are helpful, and can offer concise summaries of such truths. For example, The Heidelberg Catechism’s Lord’s Day 1 question and answer reads:

Q: What is thy only comfort in life and in death?

A: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.

Whatever circumstances befall the church in the coming years, we must keep in mind that we have a Savior who was the perfect propitiation of God’s wrath. In Him, we are predestinated, called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:30). His blood has covered our sins and set us free from the slavery of sin and death. Regardless of where the world goes and what horrors the church may face, we can rest in these truths, knowing that our greatest and deepest needs have been met in Christ. No amount of emotional, mental, and physical suffering can dislodge me from my Savior’s embrace. Rest in this, Christian. Preach these truths to yourself every day. As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, the gospel will remain the power of God for salvation – your salvation. To thrive in a world that hates Jesus (and duly us), we must cling to Christ and His gospel. Before any worldly allegiances, we are Christians. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Should the world burn down around us, we can joyfully sing because we are eternally secure. There is no greater news than this.

Secondly, if we are to thrive in an outright pagan culture, we must not be forsaking the gathering of saints. At the risk of sounding trite, let me use an illustration that has been used in hundreds (if not thousands) of youth groups. Let us suppose you have a fire with some hot coals burning at the bottom. If you were to take one of those coals out and set it on the ground, away from the other fire and other coals. Alone, it would quickly lose its light and grow cold. However, if you were to take it out and place it with some other coals, the fire would spread, and the group of them grow in warm and light together. This is a nice illustration of how community works. Christians need other Christians to function faithfully. Isolated we are prone to wonder from the faith, tempted by the world’s allure, and even more prone to depression.

2020 has proven to be a challenging year for Christians in this area. Driven by a desire for safety, many churches have quit (if only temporarily) worshiping in person. Instead, they are relying on technology and virtual worship services to fill this void. Friends, while I understand the sentiment, it is not a viable, long-term option. Christians must meet in person for corporate worship. Communication is a dreadful replacement for real community. Come pandemic or martyrdom, we must find a way to meet in person.

If there are genuine concerns about safety for members of the congregation, then pray and get creative. Ask God for wisdom. I am aware of many churches that switched to outdoor services in 2020. This way members can spread out but still talk and interact. There are safe solutions to these problems – but virtual church is not one of them. A church will not survive if starved to only virtual interaction. Virtual church is communication not community. Besides, it is not natural to us. Humans were never meant to exist and commune at a distance. We are physical, biological, and social beings made in God’s image that require human interaction.

Friends, we must commit to going to church, even if going to church becomes illegal. I wrote previously about the danger of making safety an idol. We were never promised safety in Christ. The opposite is true; we are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). A time is approaching when going to church will be dangerous (and I do not mean because of a virus). Now is the time to prepare and reinforce healthy habits. Instill in your children the need and benefit of attending church weekly. Go and be fed the gospel. Even if your church is not perfect (there is not one that is), be present and love others.

Lastly, on the importance of attending church, I will harken back to Mosaic Law. While Christians are no longer slaves to the law, the law reflects the character of God. The law is good, valuable, and worthy of our delight. We can learn much about God’s holiness and desires in the law. Consider the absolute seriousness by which God treats the Sabbath, the day of worship, and rest:

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore, the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’” (Exodus 31:12-17)

If you take nothing else out of this article, take this: God cares deeply about the Sabbath. He cares about how He is worshiped. At one point in time, failure to honor the Sabbath as God intended was a crime punishable by death! Friends, corporate, in-person worship is non-negotiable for Christians. Go to church and do not stop.

Finally, I think that if Christians are to spiritually flourish in a nation that hates us, we must dedicate time to understanding the significance of worldview, how it is formed, and how we can rightly engage our culture. As a father of 5, I am regularly thinking about this and the world my children (who have been baptized in the church) will live in. When they are my age, as I have stated above, I expect a much more hostile environment to Christians. Therefore, now is the time that I can help equip them for such spiritual battles. Not only is this my right as a parent, but it is also my duty. Understanding a worldview and why people think the way they do is very useful tool.

There are some basic, fundamental paradigms shaping the world we live in. Generations are buying into them unknowingly. People are believing things and they do not know why. If we can learn how to identify such threats and fallacies, we can rightly apply the word of God and speak truth into such situations.

It might surprise you to find that if you were to step back and study some of the most controversial issues in our world today, you would find common misconceptions underlying them all. For example, at a source level, abortion, transgenderism, euthanasia, pornography, and the “hook-up” culture all suffer from the same wrong worldview issue. Their proponents have bought into a dichotomy of the person and body. That is to say, the body is this disposable instrument of pleasure that is in no way connected to the person inside of it. When one removes the intrinsic, Imago Dei dignity ingrained in every human by God, they remove the moral implications on how one treats and uses their body. This two-story paradigm is an ontological plague upon the world today. It is this logic that gives people the moral credence to kill a fetus, endorse assisted suicides, and decide they can change genders.

The truth is God cares about our bodies and how we use them. They are not just gifts; they are temples of worship. Broken as they may be, our bodies are precious and bursting with God-given dignity. Furthermore, it is worth noting that our embodiment is not just a temporary thing. We will have a body throughout eternity. We will not be esoteric spirits floating about. No, we will have bodies that have been made perfect in Christ – restored and beautiful. Our biological self is forever connected to our person. Our broken world needs this truth. Many believe lies because they have never heard the truth. Their minds are shaped by sin-ridden entertainment and sinful desires rather than sound, biblical principles.

The world is changing, and it is time we solidify in our minds who we are in Christ, commit ourselves to corporate worship, sound philosophies, and Christian worldviews. Persecution is coming; this seems inevitable. Yet, we are not without hope. On the contrary, we have enough hope to fill a new generation of believers.

Patheos Evangelical Blog: Chorus in the Chaos (Used with Permission)

The Sovereignty of God in the Affairs of Men

At the time of this writing (7 January 2021), Joe Biden has finally been certified by the Congress of the United States to be the 46th President of the United States. Pontificators, podcasters, and arm chair quarterbacks on both sides of the political aisle are already busy telling us what happened and how it happened, and I expect they will undoubtedly be gracing us with their opinions for some time to come. Regardless of the outcome, however, we as Christians have another aspect to consider – the role God plays in this, or for that matter, any other election, at any level of civil government.

Who was responsible for the final outcome? The Christians among us will wonder about God’s role in the whole affair. Did God just sit back and watch, or did he have a more decisive role in the drama that was the 2020 election? While it’s safe to assume that almost all Christians will say they believe in the sovereignty of God, but what exactly do we mean? More importantly, what does the Bible tells about God’s sovereignty? Let’s take a closer look.

At a high level, we are told in the Psalms that God does whatever He pleases:

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19).

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3).

“For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps (Psalm 135:5-6).

But does God become involved in the specific affairs of men? Let’s peer into the pages of scripture.

In the Old Testament we have the prophet Daniel, after God revealed to him Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation, offering praise to God:

“Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:19-21; 23)

Not only did God use the proud and arrogant Nebuchadnezzar to chasten the Israelites, He also brought the pagan King to his knees, turning him into a grass eating ‘beast’ for seven years, until he would acknowledge God as sovereign.

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”” (Daniel 4:34,35)

There are many other examples of God’s sovereignty in the OT. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel, God controlled the fate of His chosen people, using pagan nations to accomplish His purposes. God used Egypt to for the preservation and growth of the nation Israel for 400 years before they inherited the promised land. God displayed his power and greatness through the hard-hearted Pharaoh. He used surrounding nations to chastise Israel when the nation fell into sin and disobedience. Then he used other pagan nations to destroy the chastisers of His people.

God used Assyria and Babylon to lead the Jews into captivity. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was even called God’s “servant” (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10). The sacking of Judah and Jerusalem was no accident of history; it was no mere fate. It was the outworking of the plan and purpose of the sovereign God of Israel to achieve His purposes, to fulfill His promises and prophecies

If we peek into the New Testament, we have this startling declaration by the Apostle Peter that speaks to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility concerning the crucifixion of Christ:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:22-23)

Fast forward 2,000 years to the world of the 20th and 21st centuries. Ours is a time of chaos and change. The USSR completely dissolved before our eyes. The Berlin Wall has been torn down. Civil war rages across the globe, and thousands of innocent lives are being sacrificed as we look on, helplessly it would seem. Christians seem to be shaken when a certain political party goes to unimaginable lengths to try and get elected to the highest office in the land. In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, some so-called ‘experts’ seem to be running the show as government officials worldwide, at all levels, take control of businesses and citizens to degrees hitherto unheard-of except where socialism/communism rules. IS God sovereign in this mess?

If the answer to that question is “yes”, it must mean that God is sovereign over the decisions of the President of the United States, over the laws passed by Congress, and even over the decisions reached by the Supreme Court. God is even sovereign over the Internal Revenue Service.

God is sovereign over kings and kingdoms. If this is true, then we need to believe that every king, every person in a position of political power, is there by divine appointment (see Romans 13:1-2). This means that we owe such authorities our respect, our obedience, and our taxes, unless any of these specifically require us to disobey God (Romans 13:1-7). It means that the laws, decisions, and decrees they make—even those which punish or persecute the saints—have a divine purpose. We may be required to disobey government, like Daniel and his three friends, but only when obeying that government would require us to disobey God. In the chaos and wickedness of our day, let us not lose sight of the fact that God is sovereign in history, sovereign even over pagan powers, and yes, even sovereign over the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

Regardless of the outcome, however, we as Christians have another aspect to consider – the role God plays in this, or for that matter, any other election, at any level of civil government.

“I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘Except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves become a reproach and byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate circumstance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest. “ – Benjamin Franklin

Full quote is on the Christian Military Fellowship website at:

https://www.cmfhq.org/Info/Articles#135327-crisis-at-the-constitutional

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Portions of the above were adapted from Let Me See Thy Glory – A Study in the Attributes of God by Bob Deffinbaugh,

“The sad irony of celebrity pastors”

“There is an irony, though, in how whenever Christians seem to attach themselves to mainstream culture, with all its vices, in the hope of drawing people towards God, they seem to get drawn towards vice.”

Follow the link to a really insightful article about celebrity pastors.

The sad irony of celebrity pastors | Spectator USA