How Christians can Survive and Thrive in the Dumpster Fire that is 2021-

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Lisa 

Now, this week’s post:

And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”- Mark 9:28-29 NKJV

So far 2021 has been a massive dumpster-fire.  

 Wednesday afternoon, protesters entered the capitol building in Washington D.C. They were tear-gassed by police and forcibly removed from the building. Five were killed. 

The progressives on my social media feed were beyond elated by this turn of events. To them it was proof-positive conservatives and conservative Christians (who they tend to lump together) are no better than anyone else.  Any moral authority conservatives may have had pointing to the riots this summer evaporated into thin air. I have had a heavy heart all week.  It is agonizing to watch a perfectly good civilization crumble before your very eyes. 

Thankfully, none of this has taken our God by surprise. He knew it was coming and it is a part of His overall plan for this world. I do not know where all of this is heading or what the future holds. That said, there are a couple of things I do know for absolute certain, first, this is not a time for “what about ism” where we point our fingers at all the moral failings of the other side, rather than looking at our own sin and stupidity.  I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a time for Christians everywhere to commit to becoming a Jesus presence in a sin-weary world (Matthew 5:9, Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 6:15). Jesus and Jesus alone can transform the hearts of men and women and there are a lot of hearts that need transforming. In order to do that we must commit to a lifestyle of growth and maturity with the following five practices. 

First:

Become “strong in the Lord”- 

In Ephesians 6:10 Christians are told “to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power”. It is a prerequisite for effectively putting on the armor of God and strength in the Lord seems to ensure we will remain steadfast in our commitment to Jesus.  We are strong in the Lord when we are seeking the Lord and His wisdom, rather than worldly sources for direction and wisdom in living life. No one has ever become strong in anything on accident. Becoming strong in the Lord happens through a regular rhythm of self-examination, personal repentance, church attendance, Bible reading, fasting and prayer. 

Building Christian community- 

It probably will not get any easier to be a Christian anytime soon.  God wants all of us to have people in our lives who we can build up in the faith and who will build us up in the faith (Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24-25, 1st Thessalonians 5:11).  Building healthy community is hard work. It means making a commitment to emotional transparency, kindness, generosity, selflessness and forgiveness.  Community means we don’t get to be fake or exclusive or hold a grudge when we feel like holding a grudge.  It means we love people where they’re at and fight like crazy for them to become a better version of themselves.  

Commit to a regular routine of prayer and fasting for our world- 

In Mark nine the disciples wanted to know why they couldn’t extract a demon from a boy. They had done everything they had done before and none of those things had gotten the job done. Jesus’ heart for humanity bleeds through the pages of scripture when He says: “this kind only comes out with prayer and fasting”. Here’s the thing: we live in a world riddled with demonic strongholds because people have turned their back on God and embraced every kind of evil and moral absurdity. As Christians we cannot continue to do what we have done in the past and expect those spiritual strongholds to be broken. Instead we must commit to a regular pattern of prayer and fasting for the people we love and the situations in our world that appear to be immovable. Nothing else is going to get the job done. 

Engage wisely- 

Engaging people wisely begins with understanding that nowhere in Scripture are Christians called to convert people to a particular political ideology. Instead, we are called to make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19) and trust the Lord to work on everything else in their lives AFTER they come to know Jesus. Engaging wisely means we choose our battles with unbelievers carefully especially on social media.

Resist the urge to view those who think differently with contempt-

Jon Tyson points out in his book Beautiful ResistanceThe Joy of Conviction in a Culture of Compromise that it has become normal for people, even Christians to show open contempt for anyone who thinks differently from them. Contempt is an ugly and divisive form of hate. We will never reach anyone with the love of Jesus if our hearts are filled with any kind of hate. We must pray that our contempt will be replaced with compassion for the lost and morally confused.

The best thing about the time we live in is that it easy for God’s love and goodness to shine in a dark place. It is up to us to adopt daily practices that allow His light shine through us (Matthew 5:16) 

When Should a Christian Rebel?

The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again. In that day the Lord will punisthe powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below- Isaiah 20-21 NIV

In recent weeks, I have had some pretty intense internal debates regarding the topic of rebellion. Normally, I would dismiss those debates as nothing more than the strange musings of a woman who is inclined toward bouts of overthinking almost everything. However, conditions over the course of the last nine months or so have been anything but normal. Life has been radically altered, mostly not for the better. Many feel their elected leaders are not working for the good of those who elected them. As a result, discussion of rebellion has become increasingly more common even among serious Christians who would normally be more predisposed to pray for an authority figure than rebel against them (Romans 13, Titus 3:1, 1st Timothy 3;1-3, 1st Peter 2:13). All that has gotten me thinking about when, if ever, rebellion is defensible in the life of a believer.  

So.

God is categorically not a fan of rebellion. Nowhere in the Bible is rebellion presented in a positive light or as a good thing (Deuteronomy 13:5, Joshua 24:19, 2nd Thessalonians 2:3).   In 1st Samuel 15:23 God equates rebellion with witchcraft. Witchcraft was and still is a serious sin.  (Leviticus 19:26, Deuteronomy 18:10). Witchcraft was such an egregious sin that witches, witchcraft, sorcery and divination were not to be tolerated in any part of Hebrew society (2nd Chronicles 33:6, Micah 5:11-13). The apostle Paul restates the Old Testament prohibition against witchcraft calling it an “act of the flesh” and placing it in the same category of sins as hatred, idolatry, debauchery and orgies (Galatians 5:20). All that to say, when God equates any sin with the sin of witchcraft it is a big theological deal that deserves our full attention. 

God is also a God of justice. Nothing angers God more than when powerful people use their power to oppress, persecute or bully the powerless, poor or defenseless (Exodus 23:6, Isaiah 10:1-3, Malachi 3:5, Matthew 23:1-36).  Injustice occurs when those in power intentionally behave in a way that causes harm to the less powerful. God’s people are called to bring about justice in every and all situations (Isaiah 1:17). One aspect of “doing justice” (Malachi 6:8) involves calling out, and sometimes even working to remove leaders who use their power for selfish ends or to hurt those who lack the power to protect themselves from the edicts of leaders who have become self-serving and callous towards their fellow humans. 


On the surface at least, rebellion and witchcraft appear to have little in common. Witchcraft is the act of soliciting, petitioning or manipulating evil spirits (servants of Satan) to achieve an end that benefits the person preforming the witchcraft. Rebellion, on the other hand, is an attitude of the heart, that may or may not end in an evil deed. 

However. 

The story of king Saul indicates witchcraft and rebellion both involve and invite demonic activity into the life of both the witch and the rebellious person. Saul started well as a leader but he had a heart that was bent towards rebellion (1st Samuel 15). He eventually became demon possessed (1st Samuel 16:14-15, 1stSamuel 18:10). By the end of his life he was consulting a medium (witch) rather than God for wisdom (1stSamuel 28:3-19). He died by suicide. Someone who practices witchcraft is likely much more aware of the forces they are employing, while a rebellious person is likely ignorant of the demonic activity they have invited into their lives through the sinful attitudes of their heart. Witchcraft and rebellion are alike because both sins inevitably lead to spiritual strongholds that are very difficult to break (Mark 9:14-29) 

So.

We can assume it is categorically not acceptable or wise to for a Christian to embrace or even dabble around with the sin of rebellion.  Rebellion invites demonic strongholds into one’s life and heart. No smart Christian wants any part of a demonic stronghold Those things are brutal. Trust me, I know. 

However.

Sometimes bringing about justice necessitates actively working against established power structures. Working to bring about justice can look a lot like rebellion when it goes against the prevailing power structures and sometimes a heart of rebellion can be wrapped up in cloak of righteousness. Humanity has a long history of using justice as a pretext for rebellion. It is not unusual for those who say they are liberating others from injustice to turn out to be far more corrupt than the leaders they worked to overthrow.  

Sigh. 

So, how does a Christian know if they are being rebellious or wanting to bring justice to an unjust situation?

It all comes down to the state your heart and the only one who can determine whether or not your heart is righteous or rebellious is you and it is absolutely critical to do that before they attack or undermine a prevailing power structure. 

Our spiritual well-being literally depends on it. 

Clear Evidence we Have Entered a Season of Judgment-

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, as an error proceeding from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity– Ecclesiastes 10:5-6a NKJV

 The city of Seattle is currently debating and is expected to pass a “poverty defense” law.  If the proposal is passed, offenses such as harassment, sexual exploitation, trespassing and unlawful use of weapons will no longer be crimes if the defendant has symptoms of mental illness, is poor and/or homeless. This proposal would effectively legalize stealing as long as the stolen property is sold to pay for rent, food or other “basic needs”. 

 Seriously. This is a real thing. Google it. 

Seattle, Washington is not the only city or state that has enacted or is considering enacting a law that shows zero insight concerning human behavior or compassion for victims of crime. San Francisco, California and Baltimore, Maryland have defunded their police departments despite rising crime. The state of Oregon has legalized the use and sale of all drugs including highly addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin. In Berkley, California a person can be heavily fined simply for calling someone by a “non-preferred pronoun” (Job 34:17, Amos 5:15).  

Here’s the thing:

In every one of the above-mentioned cities, a group of leaders (who we can assume are at least marginally intelligent) got together in an official capacity and discussed the issues at hand in length. It is likely they debated the pros and cons, looked at data and consulted experts in the field.  After all that these “smart people” then decided these particular laws were the most prudent and just course of action. Sadly, the fact that some of these laws were even given consideration is irrefutable proof we are being ruled over by fools (Proverbs 1:22, Proverbs 3:35, Proverbs 12:23). 

Being ruled over by a fool is a sign a people is under judgment. 

Judgment is not a popular topic. The whole issue is kind of icky and makes everyone feel very awkward. Most people prefer to focus their attention on the love, grace and mercy of God (2nd Timothy 4:2-4). It’s just nicer. However, God makes it clear in His word that He does judge men and women immediately following their death (Hebrews 9:27). It’s also clear there will come a day when God is done with showing mercy and grace to an unrepentant world and bring judgment to all people for their willful sin and the deliberate testing of God (1st Peter 4:7, 2nd Peter 3:7, Revelation 14:7, Revelation 19:1-2). 

 I do not know everything about everything and I certainly don’t have any inside information on God’s eschatological (end times) timetable (Matthew 24:36). That being said, I do believe the whole world has entered a period of judgment. 

Here’s why:

Throughout history human beings have had access to knowledge about right and wrong. God writes truth about right and wrong on the hearts of all people (Romans 2:14-16). This alone leaves men and women without a valid excuse for their sinful behavior. However, we live in a truly unique and blessed time where the vast majority of people alive have access to the Bible and Christian teaching. Most have heard the good news of the gospel and know that trusting in Jesus and repenting of their sin is the only way to be saved (Acts 17:24-31, Romans 10:9-12, Hebrews 4:3). Nevertheless, most have flat refused to repent of their sins even in light of exposure to biblical truth. Instead somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy percent of the population take great pleasure in doing the exact opposite of what God says is right and true (Exodus 20:1-10, 1st Corinthians 6:8-10, 1st Timothy 1:9-11). Many are not content simply to sin themselves instead they intentionally seek to lead others (including children) into what they themselves KNOW to be sin, showing zero fear of God in their behavior. 

Christians are not much better. 

Some do not know the Bible well enough to live their lives based on biblical principles. Many Christians choose churches based on their readiness to soften what the Bible says about issues pertaining to righteousness, the sanctity of life, marriage and gender (Micah 6:8, Malachi 2:13-16, Matthew 19:1-9, 1stCorinthians 6:8-10, Hebrews 13:4).  Other Christians choose churches for their entertainment platforms rather than their willingness to share the gospel message clearly. Too many Christians have chosen to vote for political leaders based on their ability to deliver economic security rather than their willingness to fight for the good of all people (Isaiah 10:1, Ezekiel 22:12). 

Those are the basic reasons why the world is the way it is right now. We are being judged. It’s not nice but it is true. The world is being judged for spiritual complacency, sexual deviancy, murder, and witchcraft (among other things).   The only way out of any kind of biblical judgment is through repentance. Repentance begins with the people of God examining their own hearts and lives and searching for areas that need transformation. Then we must ask God to give us the wisdom we need to reach our friends and neighbors with the gospel. 

How our Beliefs About the End-times can Actually Shake our Faith-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths– Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV 

Theology is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:

The study of the nature of God and religious belief.

I am an unapologetic fan of theology. I have spent the better part of my life studying God and attempting to understand Him better. I firmly believe most of the problems and struggles of this life would evaporate if people simply understood who God is and applied His principles and wisdom to all of life. 

That being said. 

There are times in life when tightly held theological beliefs can actually get in the way of seeing what God is up to in the world. Christians can become so rigidly fixated on a single theological perspective they actually miss what God says or does not say in His word. Such was the situation with many first-century Jews. Their rigid belief the Messiah would be a military leader after the pattern of King David caused them to disregard the suffering servant right in front of them (Isaiah 42:1-2, Isaiah 53:4-6, Acts 4:11, 1st Peter 2:4-7). 

I am convinced some twenty-first century Christians are falling into the same trap with the second coming of Jesus first-century Jews did with first coming of Jesus. Too many Christians on all ends of the eschatological (end time) spectrum have embraced such a rigid perspective of what the return of Jesus will look like that they are rapidly losing faith in the goodness of God because events are not shaking out exactly the way they thought they would. 

Most American Christians fall into one of two categories when it comes to eschatological beliefs. Premillennialism and amillennialism. Premillennialists believe Jesus will return visibly to the earth after a period of evil and unrest known as the tribulation. There are two popular variations on this view:

The premillennial pretribulation rapture of the church-  

This is the most popular American position on end time events. Those who hold to this view believe Christians (those who have repented of their sins and trusted Jesus as savior) will one day be taken from the earth all at once and go straight into the presence of God (1st Thessalonians 4;13-18). This event known as the rapture signals the beginning of a seven-year period of evil and chaos called the tribulation (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Revelation 2:10). The tribulation will be followed by a thousand-year (millennial) reign of Christ on the earth. 

Post or mid-tribulation rapture of the church- 

This is a variation on the first view. Those who believe this version of end time events agree with almost everything their pre-tribulation premillennialist counterparts believe except they believe the rapture will take place after or at some point during the great tribulation. The pre-tribulation rapture theory means that the return of Jesus will be an entirely separate event from the rapture while the post-tribulation theory assumes these two events will take place at more or less the same time.   

Post or mid-rapture Christians believe the church will suffer but grow before the return of Jesus. Pre-tribulation rapture Christians believe Christians who are saved prior to the rapture will be spared the intense suffering that will take place during the tribulation. This view holds fast to the idea there will be a huge spiritual revival that takes place during the tribulation and most of those who become Christians during the tribulation will be martyred for their faith   

 Amillennialism 

Amillennialists do not believe in a tribulation or a rapture per se.  Instead they believe that Christians are called to live in such a way that their actions bring about righteousness and justice on the earth. As people become more righteous and justice becomes more pervasive the reign of Christ will manifest itself over time. Amillennialists do not believe in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ rather, they believe the earthly reign of Christ will be strictly figurative. 

It’s just a fact that adherents to each end-time perspective feel equally strongly their interpretation of Scripture is correct and the interpretation best supported by Scripture.  However, in my experience all end-time views can lead to practical theological and/or spiritual problems of one kind or another. Premillennial, pre-tribulation Christians tend to become troubled at the idea there will come a time when the church will universally suffer extreme persecution. This is despite the fact Christians have suffered persecution since the beginning and there are a myriad of Bible verses promising Christians will experience suffering and persecution (John 16:23, Matthew 13:21, Matthew 24, Acts 14:21-22, 1st Peter 1:6, James 1:2, 1st Thessalonians 3:1-4). The post-tribulation rapture theory tends to lead to anxiety and an emphasis on making physical preparations for the tribulation (prepping) rather than on reaching the lost for Jesus or being spiritually ready for the return of Jesus. Amillennialism trusts sinful humans to do things only God’s spirit can do, such as bring about righteousness and justice.  

Our world is getting weirder and scarier everyday it is critical we focus on what we do know.   We know Jesus IS coming back and it appears He will return after a period of moral decline, persecution and apostasy (2nd Timothy 3:1-5, Matthew 24, 2nd Peter 3:3). It is critical we be spiritually and morally prepared for and enthusiastically await the return of Jesus even in the face of ongoing evil and unrest (1stCorinthians 1:7, Hebrews 9:27-28). It is every bit as critical we not allow our own rigid ideas of what the end should look like to shake our faith in the goodness of God. 

Some Words to A Worried Church-

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him- 2nd Kings 18:5-6a NIV

Most church people would probably agree the outcome of the latest election was not exactly a win. At best, it was a colossal disappointment, at worst it could indicate some tough times ahead. The whole messy mess was kicked to the courts and it’s possible mandated recounts could result in a surprise turn in the election results. In the unlikely event that happens, no one will be more joyful than this girl. 

In the meantime. 

Believers should do a little soul searching and self-examination. Self-examination empowers the Church to move forward from disappointments and setbacks in a way that better equips us for whatever happens to be next on God’s agenda. Christians have historically believed God is ultimately sovereign over the affairs of men and women (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 46:10, Revelation 22:13). We believe nothing on earth happens without God’s foreknowledge and the only thing that takes place without His explicit consent is sin. 

Therefore.

The results of this election are no accident. We cannot blame the outcome entirely on cheating and other shenanigans. Cheating is not outside of God’s purview. Therefore, if there was cheating involved then God allowed the cheating to take place. If we believe in the sovereignty of God then we also have to believe the outcome of the election is in the will of God. Like it or not  

Sigh. 

 This turn of events does beg some questions, like: what now? What are we supposed to conclude from this outcome? Does it mean God is on the side of abortion, censorship and a castration of the U.S constitution? Did this occur because God loves socialism or because He thinks court-packing is a good idea or because He wants churches shut down? 

Nothing I have learned about God from Scripture or personal experience would indicate any of those things are true. 

However, sometimes God wants His people to get hold of truth so badly He will bring difficulty into our lives to get us to turn to Him for wisdom and help rather than looking to the world for insight, wisdom or help. There are at least three takeaways God wants His people to glean from the current political situation. If we don’t come to understand these truths quickly we could be stuck in this uncomfortable place longer than any of us would like.  

The first is: 

We cannot depend on government to be our source of security-

 I do not think of myself as a person who places an inordinate amount of hope or faith in the authorities, documents or institutions of this world. If someone had asked me a month ago how much faith I put in the constitution or the president to make me feel safe and secure, I would have smugly replied that my faith is in God alone. Thank you very much. However, after some serious post-election prayer I realized that I felt significantly safer and more secure as a Christian last month than I do this month. There is nothing wrong with wanting a leader who protects our values and way of life. However, it is categorially un-wise to expect real security of any kind in a world broken by sin. It is even more foolish to trust anyone or anything more than we trust God. If you felt safer last month than you do this month it means you’ve put your trust in something or someone besides God. God wants us to ask ourselves what would happen to our faith in God if America ceased to exist. If that would cause your faith to disappear your faith is not really in God it’s in America and the security America provides. 

Even if everything is not okay it will still be okay- 

We all want everything to be okay and for good reason. No one in their right mind actually LIKES difficulties, pain and suffering. That said, knowing Jesus as our Lord and savior means that even if the worst happens we will be okay because to be absent from the body means we will be present with Jesus (2nd Corinthians 5:7-9). It is critical we remember this truth the next time our anxiety about the current situation starts to get the better of us (Isaiah 35:4) Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6).  

This world is not all there is- 

 This generation is overrun with modern conveniences that provide regular people with luxury and comfort previous generations never could have imagined.   The problem with all this ease and comfort is it’s made life on earth a little too agreeable and most Christians are a lot fonder of this world than our spiritual ancestors were (1st John 2:15, John 12:25). As a result, many Christians love the world more than is spiritually healthy or wise.  I suspect God is using the discomfort and fear many of us feel over our current political situation to remind Christians we are to long for heaven rather than look for a political leader who will create a utopia here on earth.

Barring some sort of a miracle life will not be getting any easier for the body of Christ anytime soon. That does not mean life won’t be good. Life will be good because our God is good. If our faith is in Him, and only Him there is no way we will be shaken.     

Four Things That Will Still Be True no Matter who Wins the Election-

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus– Philippians 4:6-7 NIV


By the time this post is published our nation will be on the cusp of election eve. Most votes will have been cast and the undecided voters will have made a decision.  The election results will be all but a done deal. 

May the Lord show us mercy we haven’t earned.  

To my chagrin, the weightiness of this election season has had me feeling anxious and navel gaze-y (Matthew 6:25-34).  It is not an overstatement to say this is the most critically important election since Lincoln versus McClellan in 1864. Like that election, this election will determine the direction of our nation and what kind of people we will be (Matthew 6:43). Will we remain a stanchly capitalist country or will we dive headlong into socialism? Will we be a people who value life at every stage or will we continue down a trajectory of moral ambiguity and Moloch worship?  Will we be a people who value order and justice or will we devolve into further violence and chaos?  Will we bow to “science” or follow the God who created science? Will we seek racial harmony? Or will we continue to splinter off into tribalism and continue to embrace identity politics? 

 Only time will tell.   

Whatever happens on election day, some truths are eternal and will remain in play no matter who wins. No matter what happens on November 3rd (or in the weeks that follow) these four things will still be true: 

God will still be on His throne- 

God will not be going anywhere November 4th.  This will be true no matter who is elected president.  God will remain firmly in control and He will still love His people and He will continue to hold us in the palm of His hand (Psalm 45:6, Psalm 111:5).  Christians are meant to be a source of hope to others in all of life’s circumstance. If we lose sight of God’s sovereignty we will lose our ability to be propagators of hope and agents of reconciliation (2nd Corinthians 5:18-19, Romans 5:5, Romans 15:4). 

God will still be good- 

Seriously.

God will still be good no matter what happens in this or any election (Psalm 73:28). No doubts allowed.  Even if our worst nightmares become stone cold reality in this situation our God will still be good (John 16:33). Even if every bad thing we fear could happen actually happens in the coming years God will still be good.  Truth-be-told, if our worst fears come to fruition we may uncover a whole new side of God’s goodness. It would not be the first time in history God revealed Himself in a deeper and more profound way through the pain of adversity or the challenges bad leadership inevitably bring (2nd Chronicles 6:26-31, Isaiah 30:20). We cannot lose sight of the fact it is our responsibility to reflect God’s goodness no matter what the political landscape happens to look like. 

God’s will for His people will still be God’s will for His people- 

Let’s say the “right guy” wins big on November 3rd. Big. Like sixty percent of the vote big. If by some miracle that occurs, I guarantee you it will not be because God is delighted with how things are going in our world. We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into thinking otherwise. If the “right guy” wins it will not be because God wants to bless our socks off for another four years.  It will only be because God is merciful and He wants to give His people a window of opportunity to show His love to the world and do the work of evangelism (Luke 6:35, Matthew 28:19).   

Our biggest problems will still be our biggest problems- 

Elections determine direction. Elections don’t rid societies of deeply-rooted problems. Contrary to popular belief the biggest problems in our society are not racial injustice, poverty, sexism, weak preaching, progressive Christians or the liberal news media. All of those are just are symptoms of the real problems.  Our biggest problems are hard hearts, lack of faith, disobedience to God and a desire to do our own thing rather than God’s thing.  This will still be true no matter who becomes president. Sadly, church people have a history of resting on their spiritual laurels anytime one of “their guys” is elected president.  That will not work this time around. We cannot return to business as usual. Instead we must seek the Lord and ask Him to change us so we can be a force for healthy, life-giving change in our world.  Without the real and lasting change that only comes through genuine heart change that only revival can bring, our culture will continue to devolve into the madness that has become a defining feature of our society.   

Perhaps the thing that will be the most true no matter who is elected, is that our nation will still need healing.  We will need God’s grace and mercy to make us healthy, united and good again.  

Six Super Dumb Ideas Making us All Dumber-

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature– 1stCorinthians 14:20 ESV 

 Dumb ideas have been around since the dawn of the human race (Genesis 3:6) However, it certainly feels as if there are more dumb ideas in circulation than ever before. 

There are several possible reasons for this feeling:

It is certainly possible people are actually getting dumber. If that hypothesis is correct it would stand to reason that because the earth’s population is growing at a rapid clip there are simply more dumb people running around than in past generations. Obviously, more dumb people would mean a multiplying of dumb ideas (Romans 1:20-22). It is also possible people are just as dumb as they have always been and the invention of the internet and social media has simply made it easier for dumb ideas to spread faster to more people than in past generations. It is also possible there are exactly the same number of dumb ideas and dumb people as there has always been and I am just more judgy than I used to be. 

Whatever the case may be.

I spent time scrolling through the comments sections of some news stories this week and was blown away by so many dumb ideas in such a small space.  Sigh. The good news is the absurdity was weirdly inspirational.  I decided to highlight a few of what I personally think are the dumbest ideas out there. Honestly, there are so many it was no easy task narrowing the field down to a manageable number for a blog post. 

I finally decided the following six deserve some sort of recognition:

All love is equal and should be equally celebrated-  

Nope and nope. Much of what passes for love these days is just a silly, selfish and fleeting emotion that bears no resemblance to the real deal (1st Corinthians 13:1-13). Unfortunately, even more of what passes for love in our world is cruel, exploitive and hurtful. Nevertheless, human beings are capable of loving in a way that is self-sacrificing, patient and beautiful and reflective of the love God has for us.  That is the kind of love that should be applauded and celebrated. 

People are essentially good-

More nope (Mark 10:18). Human beings are born with a sin nature that causes them to be bent towards evil and injustice (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9). Without the redeeming presence of Jesus in a person’s life there will always be a tendency for people to be selfish and exploitive of others. It is true that on some level most people really do want to be good but few are willing to do the one thing that has the power to make people truly good: submit to the rule and reign of Jesus in every area of their lives.  

Christianity always leads to some sort of weird oppression of women-

This ridiculous idea comes out in books and television shows like The Handmaids Tale. The assumption of the author or the producer is that if Christianity were to gain a foothold in the culture the world would inevitably devolve into a weird dystopian nightmare where women would be oppressed in very creepy ways. Those who hold to this line of thinking willfully forget it was Christianity that eventually freed women from the bondage of the pre-Christian world. One need to look no further than any Islamic country to see that the countries where Christianity has had the biggest impact are also the places women have the most protections, respect and personal freedom. 

Salvation is in politics- 

All human beings are born with a God-sized void in their hearts. Therefore, if people spurn faith in God the hole we all have always gets filled with something else. For many in our culture politics has filled the void where devotion to God belongs. This is why so many usually mild-mannered people are literally becoming unhinged over their political views. There have actually been threats made against those who vote or believe the “wrong’ way.   Sadly, politics is a horrible little god that promises much and demands much of its worshippers but delivers very little.  Without a return to biblical faith the political climate will only grow more toxic and dangerous. 

Most people are racist- 

It is true some people are racists. Most are not. One needs to look no further than the riots that have gone on in major cities to know believing the worst in people never leads anywhere good or healthy.

Science is settled- 

This idea is more than just dumb. It’s alarming because for many “science” has become their god.  Real science is NEVER really settled. What is true today could easily be disproven by breakfast tomorrow. For example: when I was a teenager, scientists were concerned about the earth becoming an artic wasteland, now global warming is thought to be a problem. For some mysterious reason many have bought into the notion that once science “proves” something true it will always and forever be true.  This dumb idea is dragging society back to an era when “unbelievers” were punished for stating an opposing view or believing something that was contrary to accepted dogma. This dumb idea could easily lead to a new dark age and an end to real science. 

As Christians we are called to develop our minds (Matthew 22:37) and be lovers of truth (John 8:32) so that we can lead the world to the truest truth of all: that without God even the “wise” become fools (Romans 1:22)

Leveraging Your Vote to do the Most Good for the Most People-

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper– Jeremiah 29:7 NIV

Back in the dark ages before March 2020 I genuinely loved politics, elections and pretty much everything associated with the election process. I would eagerly await the presidential elections every four years the way Linus would await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin every Halloween Eve. I loved learning about each of the candidates and watching as the field narrowed through the primary process. I relished watching the candidates duke it out (metaphorically speaking) during the debates. I enjoyed anticipating the results on election night to such an extent that this avowed morning person would cheerfully stay up into the wee hours of the night just to learn the results. 

That ship has officially sailed. 

Over the course of the last year the realm of politics has become so vile, toxic and obnoxious that for the first time in my adult life I have found myself wishing the whole stupid thing would just be over all ready. I have literally considered finding a cave out of range of wi-fi to hide in until after the election is over. 

 Insert sad face here. 

Unfortunately, God does not allow His people the luxury of hiding from difficult or unpleasant situations.  Rather, Christians are commanded to take on the challenges of life directly with courage and confidence that God is both good and ultimately in control of every situation (Joshua 1:9, 1st Timothy 6:12, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 46:10).  It is not my business (or anyone else’s) to tell people who they should or should not vote for. It is the responsibility of individuals to research candidates and decide for themselves who is the best man or woman for the job. 

That said. 

I am deeply convicted Christians should view the whole issue of voting differently from our non-Christian counterparts. With only a few short weeks left we should see our vote as an opportunity to make a difference and bless the lives of both present and future generations. Voting is a task that should be stewarded prudently and prayerfully especially in a year where so much is at stake.  In that vein following are three do’s and two don’t of voting. 

Do: 

Leverage your vote for the Kingdom of God- 

As Christ’s ambassadors in the world (2nd Corinthians 5:20), Christians should always attempt to leverage all of our rights for the good of the Kingdom.  This includes the right to vote.  Christians should vote for the candidates and platforms that value family, believe in the free exercise of religion and support people of faith as they live out their religious convictions in a peaceful manner (1st Timothy 2:2).  Leveraging a vote for the Kingdom also means choosing the candidate with a proven track-record of protecting people of faith from governmental persecution. 

Vote with the future in mind-

Christians are called to consider not just their own situation but also the health and welfare of generations of people they will never know (Joshua 22:27, Psalm 22:30). This means voting for the people and platforms that believe life should be protected at every stage. Believers should support the candidates who promise to enact and enforce laws that permit innocent people to live, work and learn in peace. Perhaps most importantly, it means voting for those who care about issues of justice. Men and women who will do their best to see the guilty punished and the innocent defended within the legal system (Exodus 23:6-8, Proverbs 17:15, Proverbs 18:5, Proverbs 24:24). 

Vote for platforms not just people- 

The platform of a political party reveals a great deal about both the party and the politicians who sign on to the platform. Party platforms tell us the values each party holds to and the agenda candidates will be pressured to pursue. Christians should carefully read the platforms of both political parties and compare those platforms to what the Bible has to say about issues.  It is critical we remember that no matter how neutral or reasonable a candidate may appear to be during election season; ultimately, that candidate will feel pressure from party leadership to support the values and policies their party advocates.   

Now some don’ts: 

Don’t vote only for your own interests- 

No one in their right mind wants to pay higher taxes and a Christian should never waste their vote on a candidate with a proven track record of wasting or misusing taxpayer funds.  However, Christians should vote with more than just their tax bracket in mind. Christians should look at candidates holistically and choose the man or woman who will do the most good for the most people. Period. 

Don’t vote with your feelings- 

Seriously. Just. Don’t. Voting is not about how warm, squishy and happy a candidate makes you feel when they speak.  It’s about who can actually get the job done and make a difference. For that reason alone, voters should be wary of any candidate who makes appeals based on emotion rather than facts or concrete plans for the future. 

Finally.  

PRAY. We need this year more than ever. 

Seriously.

How we Got Here and What Will Bring Change-

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins– James 5:19-21 NASB 

Sometimes writing about one thing will cause me to think more deeply about another thing. 

Such was the case this past week. 

Last week’s post was all about “the new normal” and my own stubborn resistance not just to the expression “the new normal” but also to all the changes the “new normal” has brought to everyday life. It has been tough for me to accept that the way we do life has changed dramatically all because of a stupid germ and our weird response to that germ.  However, over the course of time I have come to accept the reality that life will be different for a while, perhaps even forever. 

I do not believe the “new normal” is an accident of fate. It is the direct result of God’s judgment and rebuke. We are where we are due to the moral rebellion of those outside the church as well as the complacency and disobedience of those inside the church. Much of the “new normal” including the fear, political division, confusion and loss of freedom is simply the result of a loving God working overtime to get our attention before we destroy our stupid selves. It’s time we started paying a little closer attention.   

The world is a mess:

 We live in a time and a place where basic knowledge concerning God and morality is still very much part of the Western cultural norm. Thanks to the internet there has never been a time when more people had more access to the Bible and Christian teaching. Sadly, all this access to information has had little impact on how most people approach life (Romans 1:18-21, 2nd Timothy 3:5). 

Most non-Christians view themselves as free moral agents who are unaccountable to anyone or anything. The mere suggestion of God’s existence raises the hackles of some. The God our culture does embrace bears little resemblance to the God of the Bible. He is weak, tolerant, unfailingly nonjudgmental and very kind. As a result, most non-Christians have literally cast off all restraint. They fight against the notion that anyone, including God has the right to tell them what to do or how to run their lives.  It is routinely argued by politicians, thought leaders and “average Joes” that anything God has declared to be true and good is actually wrong, stupid and repressive. The mere suggestion there should be moral limitations in any area but especially in the area of sexuality is met with open outrage and hostility (Romans 1:21-32). 

The church has its own set of issues. 

For the better part of the last century the church has behaved much like Adam did in the garden (Genesis 3). Christians (including me) have been passive as their friends, neighbors and family members have played around with ideas and behaviors that we were fully aware would lead to their eventual destruction.  We watched the public schools teach our children the lie that Western civilization is evil and unredeemable, and did little, if anything to stop the madness.  We allowed the entertainment industry to lead our families into a hellish upside-down morality that calls evil good and good evil.  We passively watched our culture fall down the rabbit hole on nearly every issue from drug use to the break-down of the family to gender issues.  

Our reluctance to confront these and other issues was been born out of fear (Isaiah 41:10-13). We were afraid of being labeled as “hateful”, “backward”, “anti-science” or “mean-spirited” by our peers (John 15:18).   On the rare occasions when Christians have boldly confronted these and other issues it has rarely been done the way God designed it to be done. It hasn’t been a parent challenging their child or one neighbor or friend gently confronting the sin of someone they care about. Instead Christians have outsourced hard conversations to pastors, books, big Christian organizations and ministries who have had the discussions concerning virtue and morality that individual Christians should have been having one-on-one with their friends and family.   As a result, many in our culture are convinced Christians have no real interest in individual people but only care about righteousness in a nationalistic sense. 

All that being said.

Because God is good and unfailingly merciful all is not lost. We have hope.  God is eager to forgive those who are quick to repent. He will send revival, He will heal our land but first church people must make changes (2nd Chronicles (7:14). The church must do some serious soul searching. It’s time to ruthlessly root out the sin in our own lives and repent. If we don’t we will never have the moral authority necessary to confront sin and have hard conversations with others. It’s way past time to let go of any discomfort we feel about discussing moral issues with our children, friends and neighbors. And lastly, it is imperative we stop expecting pastors and ministry organizations to do the job of making disciples and confronting sin. It’s not their responsibility, it’s ours (Ephesians 4:10-12). If we lean into that responsibility we will see the culture change and our churches grow into something healthy and strong. 

How to Flourish in the “New Normal”-

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age- Psalm 92:12-14a NIV

 Among other notable distinctions 2020 has been a year that has produced some annoying but unique catchphrases and buzzwords. Thanks to the “Rona” even those generally unfamiliar with medical jargon are now familiar with terms such as “self-quarantine”, “contact tracing”, “social distancing” and “flatten the curve”. 2020 has also given us some brand-new catchphrases such as: “show you care, mask-up” “spread kindness not COVID”, “we are in this together”, “remember to wash your hands”, “staying apart is the best way to stay connected” and “stay home to stay alive”.

Sigh.  

However, the award for the most annoying new slogan or catchphrase of 2020 has to go to the expression “the new normal”. I resisted this phrase from day one. I was horrified at how quick people were to accept the idea that a stupid GERM would automatically change everything about how we function in this world. After all, germs are not a new thing. Germs have been around since the fall and humans have managed to survive quite nicely in spite of their presence in the world. Moreover, this is the twenty-first century for the love of all that is good and decent! We are not living in the stinking dark ages for heaven’s sake! At this point in history humans ought to be sophisticated enough to cope with a stupid virus, even a novel virus without it destroying the best parts of our civilization (free speech, sporting events, live entertainment venues, face-to-face communication, free exercise of religion, unrestricted travel). Acquiescing to the notion that a virus with anything less than a twenty-percent mortality rate could change EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING is a kind of spineless defeatism I was and still am very uncomfortable with.  

Nevertheless. 

As time has worn on, I have been forced to acknowledge reality.  COVID-19 really has shaped a new normal that will doubtless continue to affect our daily lives for some time to come. Unfortunately, little of the new normal is healthy, pleasant or life-giving. In fact, most of it is corrupt, unhealthy, illogical and extremely distressing in some way.  So far, the “new normal” includes a lot fear, an appalling lack of logic, political division, hostility, hate, rioting and government control. 

I am still not a fan. 

That being said. Because God promises He will never leave us or forsake us, Christians will ALWAYS have the ability to flourish spiritually even in the most challenging of times (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).  The book of Jeremiah demonstrates this reality.  Jeremiah is mostly a grim and unpleasant book.  After generations of idolatry, sexual sin and open rebellion against God the people of Judah were finally faced with the consequences of their sinful lifestyle.  God lifted His hand of protection and the nation was conquered by the Babylonians. Jeremiah prophesied that this would not be a short-term inconvenience. Israel would remain in captivity to the Babylonians for seventy years. However, Jeremiah also assured the nation that even in the midst of their painful and ugly “new normal” God still loved them.  He promised God would still hear their prayers, He would continue to dwell among them, He would continue to bless them and He still had good plans for their future (Jeremiah 29:10-14). 

What was true for God’s people in 605 B.C. is still true for God’s people in 2020 A.D. God is still God and God is still good. He has plans for His people and they are good. 

This is without question a season of rebuke and judgment. God is not dealing just with those outside the church but also with Christians who have become disobedient and negligent in their devotion to God (1stPeter 4:17). During a season of rebuke and judgment it is vital we ruthlessly root out the idols in our lives and seek to become active participants in the sanctification process (2nd Corinthians 13:5, 2nd Peter 1:5-11). We must examine our lives and repent quickly so we can be a peaceful and life-giving presence to non-Christians who have reached the end of their own coping mechanisms and false belief systems. Our ultimate obligation before God is to live holy lives and seek the good of the culture we have been placed in, no matter how corrupt or sinful our culture happens to be (Jeremiah 29:4-7, Matthew 5:16, Matthew 28:18-20, 1st Peter 2:12). That means being spiritually ready when God  brings revival to the unbelieving.  

 Historically, God does His best work in the darkest of times. Our time is no different. God promises to do great things in and through the faithful.  The seventy years of captivity gave us some of the most heroic, encouraging, and instructive stories in all the Bible. The books of Daniel, Esther and Jonah are all stories that tell how God worked in and through those who remained faithful during their season of rebuke and judgment. If we cling to God and stay open to what He is attempting to do in us through this season we will not lose heart we will see God do great things in us and in our culture. 

We will flourish.