I am a Christian American: God’s Rules for Christian Radicals

I am a Christian American

1 Chronicles 12:32 reads, “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do ; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”

“Understanding the times” in this verse is most often interpreted by Christians as understanding the ending of time as it relates to Israel, blood moons and such. I am not suggesting that we should have no interest in what is happening in relation to these important things. What I am suggesting is that understanding the ending of time is not the correct application of 1 Chronicles 12:32.

Putting this passage into context, the tribe of Issachar understood what Israel should do in the light of what was happening currently. They came with a plan addressing the issue currently before them — King Saul had been defeated and Jerusalem had been captured by the Philistines.

I believe the leaders of the tribe of Issachar came with a battle plan for re-taking Jerusalem. They didn’t show up and analyze the situation in relationship to prophesy, they showed up with a practical plan to take back the country.

Recently, I came across a website that contained scanned copies of some actual letters from Hillary Clinton to Saul Alinsky, the 1960′s radical who wrote the book “Rules for Radicals”.

Mr. Alinsky was NOT a Christian. As a matter of fact, Mr. Alinsky dedicated his book to Lucifer! With that said, I believe Mr. Alinsky — are you sitting down — is more biblical in his approach to understanding the times and knowing what to do about it — from his evil perspective — than most Christian books I read.

Folks, there is no doubt about it, Alinsky’s motives are straight from the pits of hell. Alinsky is demonic, but his methodology of community organization under the guidance of a Community Organizer, as the way to overtake a nation, is a stroke of genius. Why, because in its strategic approach, it is somewhat biblical.

If you are still reading at this point, I know I am walking on thin ice, here. But, gang, we have a Saul Alinsky trained Community Organizer in the White House, with another one waiting in the wings. It is time we became radicals, but radicals of a different sort, with a completely different goal than Alinsky espoused.

“Rules for Radicals” was written to those who are serious about taking America away from her Christian founding. It was effective because passionate disciples — disciples like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — were serious about implementing Alinsky’s principles.

Currently, on Friday nights, we are watching an intriguing video series on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Following that series, we will begin in earnest, to lay out a strategy for bringing America back to Jesus that I have entitled, “I am a Christian American: God’s rules for Christian radicals”.

Friday nights are about training up disciples who are serious about bringing America back to Jesus. There are three more parts to the Bonhoeffer video series. If you missed the first part, that’s okay. Each build on one another, but they stand alone, as well.

We’ll see you Friday night at 6:00pm!

12/32 Task Force: Understanding the Times, Reaching America with Truth

Any strategy that God blesses begins with Jesus, is all about Jesus and ends with Jesus.

One of the most powerful prayers in Scripture is recorded by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21. I just have to post this prayer in its entirety. Yes, it is that good.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen”

What a prayer!

There is a huge difference between believing in Jesus and Jesus living his life through us. Many Christians do good things in the name of Jesus, but if we are going to reach America with Truth, people must see Christ at work in Christians.

There is a huge difference between “having a daily, morning devotional time” and “being rooted and established in love” , having “power, together with all the saints”,  grasping ” how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”, and  knowing his” love that surpasses knowledge.”

As the church, our goal is to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” so he can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Experiencing more than we can imagine can only happen “according to his power that is as work within us,” bringing glory to him in the church, throughout all generations, forever and ever!

Imagine being a part of a ministry that prepares Christians to be Jesus in the world, intentionally and strategically. Imagine God doing more through us than we can imagine!

This is the work of the 12/32 Task Force.

The first arena we need to address is prayer. Throughout history, all the great movements for God began with prayer — including the birth of the church in the book of Acts.

In Acts 1:14, the Scripture reads, “They all joined together constantly in prayer”.

I have always found it interesting that Jesus clearly told the disciples that they were to “go and make disciples of all nations”, (Matthew 28:19) but instructed them go back to the upper room and wait.  Why didn’t they divide the world into eleven slices and take off! Instead, they went back to the upper room and they prayed.

When God wants to do something greater than we can imagine, he does it through us. The key is that he does it and we are the instruments.

Let’s go back to the birth of the church.  All they did was pray and move as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts Chapter  two states that while they were together that, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” What seemed like tongues of fire separated and rested on each of them.  They “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Due to the festival of Pentecost, “…there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”

The same sound of violent wind that was heard by those in the upper room was also heard by the crowd outside. It was God, through the sound of the wind that brought people together — not a door-to-door evangelism campaign.

When the crowd heard this sound, they “…came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

It was then that Peter stood and addressed the crowd.

After Peter preached, some 3,000 people came to Christ and the church was born!

The significance of Pentecost is that God did it! All the people did was to follow the fire and the wind.

The formula for taking Christ to your community is no different than what was recorded in Acts chapter two. Here are the steps.

Step #1: Gather together for prayer, teaching, fellowship and such.

Step #2: Watch and wait for God to move.

Step #3: When God says move…MOVE!

Coming together in prayer is the first step in taking Christ to our communities and country. The question for us is — are we making plans to come together to pray?

Are we busily going about our business doing good things for God, or we waiting on him, watching what he is doing, in order that he may do great things — greater than we can imagine — through us!

Passion must lead to action! (Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post)

The response to my last post has been overwhelming.

The responses have been either ultra-positive or in complete disagreement. I figured as much. I do not claim to have all the answers, but isn’t it time to start thinking outside the box? Isn’t it time to start something new? Isn’t it time for action?

I attended an election night gathering this week. The restaurant was filled with passionate people who genuinely care for our community, here, in north Idaho. Locally, we had a great night. Conservative Christian candidates almost swept the local races. Those that lost did so by razor thin margins.

Two issues fueled the conservative surge — Obamacare and Common Core. Those who opposed these two issues won the day.

What cannot be overlooked is that this was a mid-term election and voter turnout was low. Honestly, we won in places that we shouldn’t have won. The time for action is now.

The action that needs to take place must first be deliberate and continuous.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that we should, “Be prepared in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Yes, I know that Paul is referring to the preaching of the Word in this passage. We need to expand our understanding of the preaching of the Word of God. Some are called to “pastor” a congregation. All of us are called to “preach” or “proclaim” the Word! And this means through every aspect of life, including politics.

Secondly, this action must be targeted and multifaceted.

Let’s put politics in its proper context. The answer to our American cultural dilemma is Jesus Christ. Folks, Jesus is the Truth. In John 14:6, Jesus is clearly quoted as saying, “I am the truth.” Notice that I am capitalizing “Truth.” This is because Truth is not a concept, Truth is a person and His name is Jesus Christ. The problem is that we are not proclaiming Truth outside the four walls of our churches.

Truth needs to be present in all facets of our culture.

  • We need to pray that Truth will rule in our communities and country.
  • We need to show the heart of Truth through service to our community.
  • We need Truth in the education of our children.
  • We need Truth in our business community.
  • We need Truth in the media and entertainment industry.
  • We need Truth in politics.
  • We need Truth taken to the world, near and far through mission efforts.

People are asking me, “Gary, are you starting a new church?” Here is my answer. At Reach America, we are not starting a “church”, per se, but we are looking for a group of Christians who want to “be the church” where we live. We are building a worshiping congregation of people who believe that they are called by God to take Truth to the arenas mentioned above.

We do not simply want to gather for worship. We want our worship, our Bible study and training to prepare us for continuous and meaningful action! We want our tithe, the first-fruits of our labor to fund and staff these areas.

To assist us in taking Truth into the public square, we are forming the 12/32 Task Force.

This group takes its name from 1 Chronicles 12:32. “…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…”

I can summarize our cultural condition in America in a quick sentence — The America culture is going down the toilet. How’s that for understanding the times?

What should Christians in America do about it? Interject Truth back into the public square, back into the following arenas with the follow strategy.

  • The arena of prayer. This is first and foremost. We must hear from God about the implementation of this strategy. You can do the right thing in the wrong way!
  • The arena of service. When we lead with service, we lead with our heart. We must learn to serve!
  • The arena of education. As far as a practical boots on the ground first step — we must help parents gain control of their children’s education. Strategically speaking, everything flows from here.
  • The arena of media and entertainment. Each day, we are becoming more of a visual and audio society. Unfortunately, people are no longer reading. We must saturate this arena with Truth.
  • The arena of business. We must turn the tide of the way we have come to view employment in this country. America was built for owners. We must empower people to see the vision God has given them and help them understand that God has given them this talent to take Truth into that particular field. We are ambassadors for Christ in all we do!
  • The arena of politics. We need Truth in government! Need I say more? We need every American Christian involved in this arena — not merely in voting, but in every aspect of the political system!
  • The arena of missions. God has blessed us as individuals and as a nation, to be a blessing to others. This was the view of our Founders. Truth needs to be taken across the world!

Each of these arenas needs a Team Leader and team members. The Team Leaders of each of these areas make up the 12/32 Task Force.

Currently, there are great Christians leading in these areas separately. It is my contention that these efforts need to be brought together under one body. The answer isn’t prayer-only. The answer isn’t politics-only. The answer isn’t missions-only.

We will win this cultural battle by saturating this entire movement in prayer and then in service to the community. The strategy begins by building the foundation for the education of our children. Once the underpinning elements of prayer, service and education are laid, we then begin to build the walls of media, business, politics and missions.

It is time to be deliberate…

It is time to be targeted…

It is time to come together…

It is time to turn our passion into action!

 

Stay tuned, we are just getting started!

To Be (The Church), or Not to Be (The Church), that is the Question. [Warning: This could be a little controversial.]

Lately, I have been pondering this question: “Why do we choose the churches we end up attending”?

Throughout my 37 years of ministry, I have heard these as some of the reasons:

Some are searching for the friendly church. A lot of the time, people choose a church because of the style of the music. When it comes to families with young children and/or teens, many are looking for strong children’s and youth programs.

Preaching is paramount to many. I know of people who choose a church based on their use of a specific translation of the Bible. This is usually the King James Version. Doctrine is the draw for numerous people.  Verse-by-verse preaching is popular.

Denominational alliances and practices define many of us. Some Christians wear their affiliations proudly. “I go to the Baptist Church”. We are a “Calvary Chapel”. There are several mega-churches in my area who are affiliated with a denomination, but you would never know it. It is like they are “closet Baptists” or “closet Pentecostals”.

How we identify the work of the Holy Spirit can have a major role in our choice. Some love to express their worship through lifting up hands and tongues and some sit in silent reverence.

Through Reach America, my exposure to the community is a little different than most. I know people who attend all these different churches.

On many occasions, people tell me that they are very concerned about the future of our nation. They talk about how we are getting away from our founding Christian values. Almost all of those who bring this up ask questions like, “Why doesn’t our church ever address our cultural decline”? “Why don’t we hear more about this from the pulpit”? “Why don’t Christians get more involved in politics”?

At Reach America, we are currently taking our teens through a fascinating study simply called, “Bonhoeffer: The Life and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer”. It is produced by Eric Metaxas, a New York Times best-selling author.

Bonhoeffer believed that the church should be the conscience of the state. In Germany, before WWI, the church was strong. Following WWI, that began to change. Bonhoeffer believed that this was a major factor in the fall of Germany into the hands of Hitler.

I remember when the church was the conscience of America. I remember a day, in America, when people at least respected the fact that our country was founded on Christian principles. I whole-heartedly believe that it is important that we return to those values and the God of those values before it is too late.

Pastor Bonhoeffer also believed in the importance of Christians coming together to “be the church.” These days, we are so busy “going to church” and “working at the church” that we no longer have time to “be the church”.

Churches have fallen into the consumer mentality of providing “ministry services” to Christian people in order to draw them into the door. The style of music and array of age-grouped ministries are the order of the day. It’s all about youth group, nursery, children’s church, single groups, married groups, divorced groups, men’s ministries, women’s ministries, and Sunday school.

And this doesn’t count that there are committees that need to be filled, Deacons and Elders that need to be elected, mission work to be done and evangelism training. I think you get the picture.

Recently, I was in conversation with a Christian man who was just elected to his local city council. He was talking about how liberals and atheists were involved in the community. It seems that Christians are busy meeting at the church building and atheists are involved in the community. To make a long conversation short — to an atheist, community organizations and service is their “church”.

You see, Christians give the first-fruits of their time and money to the church. Atheists give the first-fruits of their time and money to their favorite political candidates and causes. After we, Christians, have given our time and tithe to the church to support all the ministries I mentioned earlier — we give whatever we have left over to other causes in the community we believe in.

In other words, Christians have no time to run for office. Christians have no time to give in service to the community. Christians have no time to go to city council or school board meetings. Christians have no money to give to political campaigns.

While Christians are bunkered up inside the church busily keeping the nursery, working in children’s church, and doing youth group, those who seek to take our communities, states and country away from our Christian foundation are in the community, getting their hands dirty.

It is time for a change.

It is time that we stopped spending all of our time “going to church” or “working at the church” and we started “being the church” in the world that God has called us to win.

It is going to require a huge paradigm shift on the part of Christians to see this happen. I may have lost some of you by now.

Imagine this:

Instead of nurseries, children’s churches, youth groups and the like — why not have all the family in worship together, once a week. What would happen if there were very little ministry — as we now know it — on Sunday morning or during the week? What if we trained parents on how to biblically and spiritually educate and lead their children? What if we spent our first time with our families, then in the community? Time “at the church” came in a distant third?

Can we set aside our addiction to church programs, and actually make a difference where we live? Is this possible?

What would happen if the “church council” or the “Elder board” looked like this?

  • Prayer Team Leader
  • Community Service/Evangelism Team Leader
  • Education Team Leader (This isn’t “church” education. I mean we actually equip parents to educate their children.)
  • Media/Film/Video Team Leader
  • Business Team Leader (Developing a Christian business network)
  • Missions Team Leader (Local and foreign)
  • Political Team Leader (Developing political awareness through the church and creating a separate PAC in which to discover and train Christians to run for office and/or how to help those running)

In the title of this blog post, I indicated this could potentially be a little controversial. What are you thinking? What are you willing to do without to be a part of a worshipping congregation dedicated to the objectives above?

Are you ready, as Bonhoeffer put it, to “be the church”? Are you ready to be equipped to actually impact the community in areas that matter? Are you ready to see people come to Christ and then become trained to actually reach the community?

If you live in the Coeur d’Alene/North Idaho area, we will be announcing our plans to begin a worshipping congregation, soon. The date of our next Reach America board meeting is May 27th. Please be in prayer for us as we discuss the launch of this important worship group.

If you live in other locations, I am praying for you! Let me know how I can help.

In my next post, I will introduce what we call “The 12/32 Task Force”.

God Bless!

Pastor Gary

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

I was born on July 3, 1959. At the time of this writing, I am 54 years old. Each day is becoming a little more precious to me. As I have pointed out in many past articles, America has come apart at her spiritual seam. I will admit, times are tough. I played varsity basketball in high school. One poster that was hung in our locker room read, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Let’s not give up on the country we all love. The going in America right now is tough. It is time for tough to get going!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Because he could not support the government takeover of the church, he became a part of what became known as the underground church.

Bonheoffer was eventually imprisoned and on April 9, 1945, he was executed.

The government takeover of the people of Germany, is similar to what we are facing today in America. Our government is slowly but surely encroaching on our freedoms — especially our religious freedoms. As I outlined in my recent series on “gay” marriage, biblical Christianity is under attack.

The only course of action for the Christians in early 20th century Germany was to retreat — to go underground. Hitler had become an immovable force. The Nazi party took over every aspect of German life, including the church.

This is not the case for Christians in America. To retreat now would be fatal for our country. On the contrary, for us, the answer is not retreat, but advance.

These are unprecedented times for the American Christian church. It is time for unprecedented action.

We need to become like the men of old, the men of Issachar. 1 Chronicles 12:32 reads, “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do — 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.”

The enemies of Israel had overrun Jerusalem and all the tribes came together to take the city back for God. The leaders of “David’s Mighty Men” were the men of the tribe of Issachar. The Scripture tells us that these guys were uniquely qualified to lead due to three traits.

  1. They understood the times.
  2. They knew what Israel should do.
  3. They had their relatives under their command.

Verse 38 gives us even more insight into this godly band of warriors. “All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.”

This battle is only going to be won by people fully determined, with one mind, willing to risk all they have.

I want to suggest a two-fold strategy for taking our communities and our country back for Christ. We are implementing these strategies where we live, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If you live in the north Idaho area, I want to invite you to join us. A meeting date will be announced, soon.  If you are interested in including your community in this strategy alongside us, please join in.

Strategy Point #1: Very soon, we are going to begin a weekly worship and Bible study event in Coeur d’Alene called Kootenai CARES or Cultural Awareness Readiness Engagement Strategies. It will be a service for the entire family. We are not starting a “church”, we are gathering with a group of families who want to be the church.

Strategy Point #2: We are creating what we call a 12/32 Task Force, named for 1 Chronicles 12:32. This active group will lead smaller teams. The important areas of our community we need to impact in order to re-establish our American Christian values are as follows:

  1. Prayer
  2. Community Service
  3. Education
  4. Business
  5. Politics

In my next few posts, I will break down each strategy point.

God bless you and thank you for taking your time to read these articles. Email me sometime and let me know what you believe God is telling you.

~Pastor Gary

Where Did the Effort to Take Christians and Religious Expression Out of the American Public Square Begin?

Together, We Can Make A Difference!

Where did the effort to take Christians and religious expression out of the American public square begin? How do we bring Christianity back? Is that even possible?

Exactly when the effort to take our nation away from Christianity began is debatable, but one significant place we can start is with the Supreme Court and their rulings in 1962 and 1963.

In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled prayer — even voluntary, student led prayer — was unconstitutional in our public schools. In 1963 the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional. By the way, the 1962 case was the infamous Engel vs Vitale case. A simple 22-word prayer, approved by the New York state board of education, was struck down by the Court. “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.”

Today, most people — Including some who say they are Christians — are convinced that the issue the Court was concerned with was coercion, since it involved a state-approved prayer. Folks, there was never any evidence of coercion proven in this case. The Court, on page 423 of the ruling, states, “The schools did not compel any pupil to join in the prayer over his or her parents’ objection.”

The Court continued on page 430 of their ruling that “prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State.”

The problem this Court had wasn’t state-mandated coercion, but the simple presence of prayer in the public school system. The Engel decision was an attack on any kind of prayer; even voluntary, student-led prayer.

Let’s move on to the 1963 case: Abington Township vs Schempp.

The state of Pennsylvania had a policy that each school day would be opened by the reading of the Bible. Like the previous case, participation was voluntary and student-led. There were to be no comments made or questions asked; only the reading of the Bible would be permitted. Again, coercion was never proven in this case. The Schempp’s children, Roger and Donna, testified they had never protested to their teachers concerning the practice.

The argument was made that the school setting is no place for religious activity. If these activities are to occur it should be in the home, church or private school. Justice Stewart, in his dissent, pointed out the constitutional fallacy of this argument. “Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion are available to all, not merely to those who can pay their own way.” Judge Stewart concluded, “A refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

Some may argue that in this ruling the Bible, itself, wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, just the reading of it in public. Without a doubt, in this case the Court struck down the official use of the Bible in public education.

These two rulings paved the way for future decisions like this one. In 1980, Stone vs Graham, the Court ruled it unconstitutional for students to view the Ten Commandments while at school. — In this case the Court ruled, “That if the 10 commandments were read in school…a student might feel inclined to follow them” — yeah, really.

The 1962 and 63 rulings opened the floodgates for secularists to make our public places — our schools, our colleges and universities, our government, even our businesses — religious expression-free zones. Unfortunately, many Christians have also taken this stance.

The first amendment no longer protects the right of free religious expression but is used to restrict it. It is now in vogue to ask us, Christians, to keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. We, Christians, are being told that that we have the right to express our beliefs — in our homes and places of worship.

It is time for action.

At Reach America, we are launching a two-part strategy to bring Christianity back into the public square. The strategies will begin locally, here, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Our goal is for other communities to join us.

In my next blog, I will outline the strategy.

At times, we all get discouraged — even I get discouraged. Now, however, is not the time to shrink back. We, at Reach America, still believe God can bring our nation back through us.

Do you believe? Will you join us?

We want to hear from you. My email is gary@letsreachamerica,org. Our phone number here is 208-966-4434.

If you are interested in joining the effort to take Christ to the public square, please contact us. Personally, I would love to talk to you.

Together, we can make a difference!

~Pastor Gary

Gay Marriage, Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) record Jesus as saying, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The power behind what Jesus said was in how Jesus served.

Without a doubt, Jesus’ words were powerful, but it was what he did that gave his words impact. Luke records in Luke 4:36, “All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’”

As I stated in “Rip Van Church”, Christians fell asleep at the switch and now we have awakened to find ourselves shoved out of the public square. As stated in Part Six, “A Little History Lesson”, the “gay” movement had its roots in the feminist, socialist movements of the 1930s through 50s and sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s. To pinpoint the watershed moment when our country began to rapidly move away from our Christian founding we need to look to the 1962 decision of the Supreme Court, ruling student-led prayer in public schools as unconstitutional. (This will be the topic of my next post.)

I believe we all agree that the sleeping giant, the church, needs to wake up and re-enter the public square. I want to begin a discussion on the most effective way to do so. I want to suggest a three-point strategy to bring back righteousness and save our communities.

Start, Serve, Stand

Start

We start with learning to C.A.R.E. for our communities again. We must become Culturally Aware and become Ready to Engage our community. Too many of us, Christian, have given up on our communities and we have begun to withdraw from the public square. I believe the scriptures are clear that we should be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) and that we should “occupy” (Luke 19:13) until he comes.

Why did God leave us here after we were saved? Think about it. There are only two things we can do on earth that we cannot do in heaven — sin and tell others about Jesus. Now, which one do you think He left us here to do?

Serve

We must re-enter society as a servant. Unlike when Jesus walked the earth, Christianity is not new. In the eyes of today’s world we are not only irrelevant but we read an ancient book that is no good for today and we claim to worship a God that no longer is necessary. In the minds of the majority of America, the advances of society and science have made faith in a “God” pointless.

It is into this new America that we are living and that we are called to reach.

In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus is recorded as saying this:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How we reenter the public square is important. I have been involved in the abstinence education movement since 1990, when Magic Johnson first announced to the world that he was HIV positive. I have been blessed to lead on every level of government in America. I have served locally, as well as the state and national levels.

From experience, I have learned that the old adage, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”, is true.

It seems that the only time Christians show up in the community is when we are against something. All people know about us is what we are against. When we lead with our service, people see our heart. When we lead with our mouth in a negative way, all people believe they see are our fangs. When we serve, we prove to those reasonable people where we live that we really don’t have fangs.

Stand

After we have shown that we care, we have earned the right to be heard. We need to be active in the community. We need to be active in county commissioner meetings, school board meetings, and city council meetings. We need to let our voices be heard in areas in which we agree and disagree.

Christians need to get involved in politics. Yes, I said “that” word — politics! Run for office, work for those Christians running for office. VOTE!

Get involved in local ministries that are making a difference. Programs like food banks, shelters and pregnancy centers need our help. Start a leadership program, like Reach America, where you live that is training up youth and their parents how to lead.

Jesus used the “salt” and “light” metaphors –mentioned earlier– in what we know as the “Sermon on the Mount”. Earlier in that sermon, Jesus lists the “beatitudes.”  I have always found it ironic that right after Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Yes, I believe that was intentional. This is the nature of righteousness spoken in the public square. To those who are willing to listen, righteousness brings peace. To those whose hearts are hardened, righteousness proclaimed in the public square brings persecution to the righteous.

Unfortunately, the fear of persecution is driving Christians out of the public square. The fear of turning people away from the gospel message of salvation is keeping Christians away from speaking in the public square.

Never does the Bible tell us not to speak righteousness, but it does tell how we should speak.

Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

We will always be vilified — count on it — but let’s be sure it is the Word of God that is offending, not the messenger.

This series has been one of the most challenging I have written. I hope it has been helpful to you.

In my next post I am going to examine the 1962 Supreme Court decision, ruling student-led prayer in public schools unconstitutional and the impact that ruling has had on our country.

Together, let’s re-enter the public square. Together, let’s start, serve and stand!

Gay Marriage Part 7: Rip Van Church

In the 1950s and 60s, when our American society was racing away from Christ and our American founding values, the church was silent. When the Courts were ruling against prayer (1962) and the Bible (1963), the church was silent.

With good intentions we sent our kids off to public schools, then to state and private colleges and universities, ignorant of the fact that many of the teachers/professors were guiding our children away from God and their parents.

As a nation, we have lost our way because:

  1. Overwhelmingly, Christians no longer care about America — maybe we never did.
  2. Doctrinally, we have come to embrace a theology where it is practically “unchristian” to care about our culture and our country.
  3. Instead of Christians shaping the culture, the culture has shaped those who call themselves Christians.

For whatever reason or reasons, America has lost her way because the church in America has lost her right to be heard.

For the purpose of this post I want share with you the condition of the church in America and how we got to where we are today.

I was born on July 3, 1959 — I know, I’m old.

I remember a time in America when the church and pastors were respected — even by those who weren’t Christians. I remember when businesses were closed on Sunday, in honor of the Lord’s Day. Any of you old fogies remember the old “Blue Laws”? I remember when community recreation departments would never schedule a game on Sunday or on Wednesday night.

Divorce was unheard of in my community. Every one of my friends had a mom and a dad — at home. Teachers were respected and discipline in our nation’s schools was the order of the day. Most, if not all, of my teachers were also Sunday school teachers at their church.

As Christians, we sat on our “blessed assurance”, and let our children and our country slip away. You know, like the frog in the kettle. You remember this one, don’t you? If you place a frog in a kettle of boiling water, he will quickly hop right out of it. However, if you place it in cool water and turn the temperature up slowly, the frog will sit there and boil to death.

Welcome to the New America.

It’s as if the church in America is Rip Van Winkle.

The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the time just prior to the American Revolution in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Rip is a fine man, liked by all, but unfortunately he had a knack for avoiding work. His wife was constantly nagging him about his chores. Eventually, his house and farm began to slip into disrepair.

Tired of his wife’s incessant complaints, Rip took off with his dog, Wolf, for greener pastures. He came upon a band of travelers who offered him some of their moonshine. Rip drank it and quickly fell asleep.

He awakens to discover many shocking changes. His musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Van Winkle returns to his village where he recognizes no one. He discovers that his wife has died and that his close friends have died in some war or moved away.

When Rip returns to his favorite drinking hole he discovers that the portrait of King George has been replaced with one of George Washington. After a fair amount of investigation, Van Winkle discovers that he had been asleep for 20 years. He slept through the American Revolution and awoke to find an entirely different world.

Rip Van Winkle was asleep for 20 years. To the best of my recollection, the church fell asleep some time during the late 1950s to early 60s and now we are waking up from a slumber of fifty-plus years to an America that is vastly different from the America we once knew.

The changes in our country have been vast and, frankly, too numerous to mention in this one blog post. We awaken from our slumber to find that society as we knew it in the early 60s has been redefined. As we wipe the crusty “sleep” from our eyes, we notice that is no longer Christ’s picture we see hanging in our local schools and court houses; it is Charles Darwin’s, Albert Einstein’s and Sigmund Freud’s.  Dad is no longer the bread-winner and mom is no longer at home to raise the kids. As a matter of fact, most children do not have a dad in the house, period. If there is a dad, he is most likely working hard to make the ends meet. Mom works, too. The government is now raising the children.

Our church houses are nearly empty and no one cares what we have to say any more.

When we fell asleep, it was Elvis who had left the building — now, it is God who has left the country. And we wonder why they are not heeding to the Word.

No one forced the church to fall into our 50-year stupor. We weren’t given cosmic sleeping pills. No one pushed us into the corner in which we now find ourselves.

What are we, as the Church, to do?  What do we do about what we know?

Next Post: Developing an Action Plan. Hint: We must learn to C.A.R.E.

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Six

Part Six: A little history lesson — where did the “gay” movement come from?

Many people are asking, “Where did this come from”? “How did we get here”?

I am no historian, but I do consider myself a student of American history and culture. I lead a weekend conference called, “Reclaiming America.” For this post and perhaps the next one, I want to draw from this information to guide us. To develop an adequate response to the “gay” movement, we need to take some time to understand the history and motives behind it.

Since the inception of our nation, in 1776, there have been those who have attempted to separate America from its Christian roots.

The following movements all contributed to this effort.

  • The Socialist Movement
  • Feminism
  • The Sexual Revolution
  • The “Gay” Rights movement

An important note: The tool all these movements or groups have used to accomplish their mission is the public school system. In the history below, you will see how they have successfully infiltrated the public schools to change the course of our nation.

The Socialist Movement

I place the organized effort to separate America from her Christian roots at 1905 with the beginning of the ISS, The Intercollegiate Socialist Society. The ISS was formed September 12, 1905 at Peck’s Restaurant, in New York City. This group was founded by Upton Sinclair. By the way, he is still identified by educators as a literary giant. Yes, your high school student may know of Upton Sinclair.

The list of officers that were elected that day reads like a who’s who of the founders of the socialist movement in America. According to www.marxistshistory.org, the first slate of officers for the ISS were:

President: Jack London; First Vice President: Upton Sinclair; Second Vice President: Graham Phelps Stokes; Secretary: M.R. Holbrook; Treasurer: Rev. Owen Lovejoy; Executive Committee: Rev. George Willis Cooke, Morris Hillquit, Robert Hunter, Harry Laidler, Katherine M. Meserole, and George H. Strobell. Of this group of socialist worthies, only Harry Laidler was actually a current college student.

Their first goal was to penetrate American colleges and university campuses. This strategy would give them unfettered access to the people who would be molding the minds of young Americans.

The first ISS organization was founded at the University of Wisconsin. The Wesleyan Social Study Club was headed by Harry Laidler. A second chapter was formed at Columbia University in New York City with a student named Walter Lippmann playing the leading role. Over the course of the first three years affiliated socialist clubs were organized at Harvard, Princeton, Barnard, New York University Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to meeting to discuss problems of the day, these groups distributed socialist propaganda and arranged lectures on their respective campuses in an attempt to extend support for the socialist cause.

The most destructive component of the legacy of the ISS was the establishment of teacher unions.

Feminism

Feminism played a major role in taking us further away from our Christian roots and toward the sexual revolution. In the late 1880′s Susan B. Anthony led the way for women to eventually gain the right to vote. I believe we all will agree that voting is a privilege that should be afforded to all Americans. However, in the early 1900′s, the feminist movement took an anti-Christian and anti-family turn.

There is no better place to begin this part of our cultural history than with the life and work of Margaret Sanger. Margaret was born on September 14, 1884 in Corning, New York. She died on September 6, 1966. Margaret was one of 11 children. Her mother was Roman Catholic and her father was known as a “free-thinker”.

Ms. Sanger was a strong supporter of the KKK and spoke at many of their rallies. She is known as the “mother” of the modern Feminist Movement and a member of the Socialist party. Margaret Sanger believed that women needed to overcome two problems in order be considered equal, — religion and large families. She was the first to use the term “birth control”.  She laid the groundwork for what we now know as “Planned Parenthood”.

The Sexual Revolution

The feminist movement laid the groundwork for the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s. The man who is considered the founder of the sexual revolution and the grandfather of sex education is Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

Alfred Charles Kinsey was born in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 23, 1894. Alfred’s father was a devout Methodist who took his family to church at every possible opportunity.

I must point out that it was in a “Christian” household that America’s most influential sexual revolutionaries grew up. It was Kinsey who championed “sexual freedom” for men and women alike, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

Kinsey received his Doctor of Science in 1919 from Harvard. After a yearlong traveling fellowship he studied gall wasps. He arrived in Bloomington, Indiana in August, 1920 as the new assistant professor of entomology at Indiana University.

At heart, Kinsey saw himself not as a teacher, but as a scientist of the first rank and a missionary whose destiny was to change the world through science. Kinsey argued that sex was the glue that held human societies together. He attacked whom he referred to as “self-appointed religious institutions” for their role in regulating sexual conduct. Kinsey blamed American youths’ almost total ignorance of sex as the inevitable result of Victorian morals and mores.

In 1947, with his wife, Clara, Kinsey founded the Institute for Sex Research. Kinsey and Clara immersed themselves in his work, helping him entertain students who participated in his “research”. His “samples” grew to include prison inmates, drifters, imprisoned homosexuals, pedophiles and homosexuals in the gay bars on Chicago’s Rush Street.

It is Kinsey’s research that is the basis of what determines what is now considered to be “normal” sexual behavior in America.

Kinsey lived just long enough to see the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code, published in 1955, embrace the right of consenting adults to engage in homosexual behavior.

Kinsey and his “research” are credited with inspiring…

  • The Sexual Revolution of the 60s
  • The Pill
  • Roe vs. Wade
  • Reversal of Sodomy Laws
  • Today’s Sex Education

And you guessed it –the modern “gay” movement

According to www.pbs.org, the following events are the milestones of the modern “gay” movement.

  • In 1948, Biologist and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Kinsey’s research lays the foundation of what is now considered “normal” sexual behavior.
  • November 11, 1950: In Los Angeles, gay rights activist Harry Hay founds America’s first national gay rights organization. In an attempt to change public perception of homosexuality, the Mattachine Society aims to “eliminate discrimination, derision, prejudice and bigotry,” to assimilate homosexuals into mainstream society, and to cultivate the notion of an “ethical homosexual culture.”
  • January 1, 1962: Illinois repeals its sodomy laws, becoming the first U.S. state to decriminalize homosexuality.
  • December 15, 1973: The board of the American Psychiatric Association votes to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. By the way, no research was presented to the association. They just felt that this long-standing policy should be changed.
  • July 3, 1981: The New York Times prints the first story of a rare pneumonia and skin cancer found in 41 gay men in New York and California. The CDC initially refers to the disease as GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder.
  • Eventually, symptoms are found outside the gay community. Bruce Voeller, biologist and founder of the National Gay Task Force, successfully lobbies the science and medical community to change the name of the disease to AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Let’s fast-forward to the present and to recent developments.

  • December 18, 2010: The U.S. Senate votes 65-31 to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. Military.
  • February 23, 2011: President Obama states his administration will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans the recognition of same-sex marriage.
  • 17 states now allow “gay” marriage and 33 states have banned “gay” marriage.
  • June 26, 2013: The United States Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage, is unconstitutional.

Folks, “gay” marriage is coming.

What are Christians to do? Before we can answer that question, I believe we should answer this question: Where was the church during America’s slide to moral and cultural decline?

I’ll attempt to answer that one in my next post.

Thanks so much for sticking with me. I hope you are finding this information helpful.

~Pastor Gary

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Five

Part Five: Why Gay Marriage is Bad for America

In my last post, I laid out a Biblical epistemology, or worldview, of marriage and family and their importance to God. The coming together of man and woman as “one flesh” in the context of marriage is the most intimate expression of love and oneness two humans can experience. God made us where we fit together — literally — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Marriage is the perfect expression to illustrate God’s perfect fit with us, as His creation, made in His image. The scripture tells us that as believers we are Christ’s bride, that God is a jealous God and that husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. The biblical examples go on and on.

It should come as no surprise to us that sexual sin is emphasized so much in scripture. Biblically speaking, there is just something different about sexual sin.

In 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, the Apostle Paul clearly specifies that there is something different about sexual sin. In verse 18 Paul writes, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, Paul compliments the people, and then issues this instruction in the form of a warning. I have included verses 3-8, below.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”

Sometimes what the scripture doesn’t say tells us a lot. Take this first phrase of verse three. Why didn’t Paul say,

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid murder“?

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid telling lies”?

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid stealing“?

Could it be that when we sin sexually, that this is the first sign of more sin to come; the first sign of moral decline within ourselves and in the culture?

In Romans 1:18-32, Paul certainly indicates this. In these verses it is evident that sexual sin and specifically same sex relations are unnatural and are the first visible sign of a people who have turned their backs on God.

Let’s take a close look at Romans 1:18-32 and the seven steps to cultural chaos.

  • Step One: Suppress the truth, verses 18-20.
  • Step Two:  They didn’t glorify God nor did they give thanks to Him, resulting in futile thinking and a dark heart, verse 21.
  • Step Three: They claimed to be wiser than God and began to worship themselves, verses 22-23.
  • Step Four: God gave them over to their sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies.verse 24
  • Step Five: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie. verse 25
  • Step Six: Women and men exchanged natural relations for unnatural relations, verses 26-27.
  • Step Seven: They received the due penalty for their perversion, verse 27.

And what is the penalty? Take a look.

  • A depraved mind to do what should not be done.
  • A mind filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
  • Envy, murder, strife, deceit, cruelty.
  • Gossip, slander, God-hating, disrespect, arrogance, boastfulness.
  • They invent ways of doing evil.
  • They disobey their parents.
  • They are senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

The Apostle concludes his remarks in verse 32.

“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Folks, from a biblical epistemological approach, to what conclusions can we come? What are we, as Christians, to do about what we know to be biblically true?

Stay tuned for part six.