When Evil Prevails

terror

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13

 

We all stand in shock at the terrorist attacks in France yesterday. While acts of terrorism are becoming normal in our global culture, it still amazes me that people can go into a theater and start shooting innocent people in the name of their god. I could share my political opinions or even comment on what I think world leaders should do in response to this act of terror, but I prefer to address a deeper issue. We must realize that what we are watching is simply spiritual warfare. The god of this world is wreaking havoc on our world, and we are moving ever closer to the end of time that was prophesied throughout Scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that perilous times would come before His return.

How do we respond to this? Our first obvious response is prayer for those who have been personally impacted by this devastation and for our leaders as they consider a proper response. Secondly, we should not be surprised. God told us in His word that calamity would come and evil would show its ugly head. We must remind ourselves that terrorists are not really our main enemy. Even ISIS is not our ultimate enemy. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. The god of this world is our enemy. There is a spiritual battle that is being waged, and ISIS is but a pawn in the hands of the master deceiver.  There are certainly things that our national leaders must do to stop evil in its tracks, and it is my prayer that our president and other political leaders will have the substance needed to take bold stands against this global evil. However, we must see the bigger picture.

Real spiritual battle takes place in other ways. For starters, it begins on our knees. This terrorist attack should call believers to a time of great prayer. Ephesians 6:10 commands us to “be strong in the Lord.” I wrote about this passage in my book Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days, and I find that it has special relevance today.  Any preparation we take for spiritual conflict is built upon us yielding to the power and presence of Christ in us. Then the Ephesians 6 passage continues by telling us to take some steps in our preparation: put on the full armor of God. I urge you to consider the teaching of this passage in light of the spiritual conflict that is going on in our world. The Church of the Lord Jesus must prepare spiritually for what is going on around us. Do not be surprised by terror and persecution; be equipped. God is on His throne, and He will guide you to find strength and hope in the days to come. If you are strong in the Lord and equipped with His spiritual armor, you will be ready for whatever we will face in the days to come.

I have lowered the cost of the digital version of Immovable in hopes that it will be a guide and an encouragement for you during this time. Take steps toward preparing yourselves for the spiritual conflict that will only increase before the return of Christ. Study Ephesians 6:10-18 and Matthew 24 in light of what is going on in our world today. The Bible is clear that God will ultimately win this conflict, so we do not face these battles with hopelessness. We have great hope in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray as never before, prepare for what is to come, engage our enemy on spiritual grounds, and comfort those who hurt. Trust that our faithful God, our Leader in battle, will prevail in the days to come.

Is Justice Just?

Statue of justiceI would like to share a few thoughts in response to comments I’ve had related to my last post. Before reading this, would you consider this question? Is it possible to disagree with what someone does without hating that person? If you have children, then you have no alternative but to say “yes, it’s possible.” I disagree with homosexuality and same-sex unions, but that does not mean that I hate the homosexual. God disagrees with my sin, but that does not mean that He hates me. I’m grateful for that.

I just watched an interview with Kim Davis, county clerk from Grayson Kentucky. You may remember that Mrs. Davis refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex unions and was put in jail for six days. The problem this clerk faced was that the new law legalizing same-sex unions means that gay couples have to get a marriage license. In Kentucky, the law requires the name of the county clerk to be on the bottom of the document. Even if someone else issues the license, her name would still be on the document. She started asking for her name to be removed from the document this past January, but no one would accommodate her request. It seems that Mrs. Davis had three options. Option #1: She could grant the marriage licenses to same-sex couples with her name on the license thereby disregarding her conviction that the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin. Option #2: Refuse to grant a license to same-sex couples. Option #3: Resign her position as county clerk. The option of having someone else give the licenses does not remove her name from the document, therefore, Mrs. Davis feels that she is condoning sin and disregarding the Bible.

I don’t know Kim Davis, and I don’t know every detail about this particular issue. While there are several issues to be considered, one question has to do with what should a Christian do if the U.S. government passes a law that stands contrary to the Bible. Should we obey the law? While the law regarding same-sex unions does not personally affect most people, it does affect Kim Davis. It will also affect many other businesses and ministers who are involved with weddings. Just ask the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. They were sued because they declined the business of a gay couple because the shop owners said it conflicted with their religious beliefs. Masterpiece Cakeshop lost the lawsuit.

I have a problem on at least two levels. I obviously disagree with redefining the word marriage to include same-sex unions. That would be like us passing a law saying that a dog is a horse. Here are two additional things to be considered. First, requiring Christians to act contrary to their religious convictions stands in contrast to the first amendment to our Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” Do you think requiring a Christian to disobey the Bible is prohibiting the free exercise of Christianity? Do you think that causing a Christian to have to resign from her job in order to keep from compromising her faith is prohibiting the free exercise of Christianity? If Mrs. Davis had taken her job after the law was passed, then there might be some argument against her position. I would not want my name on a marriage license for same-sex unions either. Would you? This is a Constitutional issue.

The second level is personal. While I am protected by the Constitution, I am not protected by our national laws (which I believe stand in contrast to our Constitution). As the law stands now, my church is required to allow a same-sex union to take place in our building. I could be sued if I do not accommodate the wishes of a same-sex couple who want me to be the officiating minister. Because I am not an employee of the courts, I assume I would not be put in jail for refusing to marry a same-sex couple, but I could be sued. Is this the kind of country our Founding Fathers envisioned? Do you really want our country to force churches and pastors to disobey the Bible or to condone biblical disobedience? What are U.S. citizens supposed to do when a law is passed that conflicts with their biblical convictions and moral consciences? I know the importance of law. What we have in this case is the conflict between two laws: God’s vs. U.S. I do not want to live in a country without laws. The question has to do with what is the basis of law. Because this blog is getting quite long, I will address this issue at another time.

I’m grateful that in the midst of all of this, God loves us regardless of which side we fall on. I am grateful that Jesus died for all of sin and offers everyone an opportunity for forgiveness and eternal life. To say that God hates homosexuals would be to ignore the Bible: “For God so loved the world…” If Christians hate homosexuals, this hatred is sin and does not honor God. At the same time, Christians are not to condone sin either. We obviously stand at a precarious crossroad.

French Train Attack Provides a Model

AmericansInFranceIf you have been watching the news the last few days, you are aware that three Americans, along with a gentlemen from Great Britain, stopped what certainly would have been another terrorist attack in France. When a would-be killer entered a train with multiple weapons, the four heroes dove on the man creating a very different ending to a story that would have been horrendous. The men were knighted by the French president and were given the highest honor in France. One of the Americans, Anthony Sadler, commented on the event and challenged the rest of the world with these words:

Do something. Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would’ve been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of…terror like that, please do something. Don’t just stand by and watch.

I believe Sadler’s words ring true for the Church today as well. We live in times of great spiritual conflict, and the persecution of Christians has become commonplace – even in the United States. We must “do something” because “hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything.” God has called Christians to engage and has even offered us the armor necessary for our defense and offense (Ephesians 6:10-18).

You may have also read where a Mississippi high school was banned from a half-time show because they were going to play an arrangement of “How Great Thou Art.” My hat goes off to the Jackson, Mississippi fans who stood and sang “How Great Thou Art” during the half-time show when the band was not allowed to play. When someone attacks Christianity, we need to be reminded that our battle is “not against flesh and blood.” We are in a spiritual conflict, and it is time for Christians to stop hiding behind their fear. We must pray as never before, witness to others as if the rapture will take place tomorrow, urge our political leaders to take a stand for righteousness, and vote for candidates that best reflect the teaching of the Bible. Same-sex unions have been legalized because the majority of Supreme Court justices are liberal men and women who do not submit to the authority of God’s Word. If all of the Bible-believing Christians in our country would have voted according to their beliefs a few years ago, this law would have never been passed. Because Christians either do not vote or do not believe we should put men and women in office who submit to the authority of God’s Word, we now have laws that stand in stark contrast to the clear teaching of the Bible. Sadly, we can expect things to only get worse in our nation.

We are in a spiritual battle, and it is time for the Church to do something about it. I urge you to engage the enemy. Don’t let Satan take any more territory without a fight. Let your light shine before the world so that the world will know the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have not yet registered to vote, do so now. Get informed. Get involved. Pray for our nation as never before. Don’t just stand by and watch. Engage.

Celebrating Independence … from God

celebration_same_sexThere’s dancing in the street and gladness in the air, at least in some places. It is sort of reminiscent of how Sodom must have been the night before God rained down a judgment of fire upon them. Yesterday marked one of the saddest days in the history of our nation. The United States of America established the Constitution as the means of governing our Republic, and yesterday five Supreme Court justices snubbed their noses at God and made adherence to the Word of God illegal. It was a dark day because this was the first time we passed a law that blatantly contradicted the Bible. It is the first time that Christians will be forced to decide to either obey God or obey our government. While it should be one in the same, it is not. With the stroke of a pen, five justices declared our independence from God.

I obviously have a problem with this ruling because it stands in contrast to the clear teaching of the Word of God. Marriage is to be between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4–6; Mark 10:5–9; cf. Genesis 1:27–28, 2:20–24; Ephesians 5:21–32). Same-sex relations are a sin against God (Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; cf. Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). Please understand. Homosexuality is not a bigger sin than lust, dishonesty, stealing, or adultery. In God’s eyes, sin is sin. Jesus had to die for the thief just as much as He died for the homosexual. I want our nation to be blessed of God, but when we pass laws supporting sin and ignore the Bible, God cannot bless us. God is just, and He will punish sin. I believe that this ruling will open the door to all manner of Christian persecution. It is the beginning of the fall of our nation. Whenever we celebrate a blatant move away from God, we are on a slippery slope that leads to Hell.

My problem is that now I am a citizen of a country who legally condones sin and restricts people from following God’s clear teaching. When I say restricts, you may be thinking that this law won’t affect you. Can’t we all continue practicing religion as we see fit – just like the Constitution guarantees? The answer is “no.”

I have someone close to me who is a professional photographer. He makes a living mainly through taking pictures at weddings. He strongly opposes same-sex marriage, but now when he is asked to take pictures at a gay marriage, he will either have to say yes or potentially be sued. I am a pastor. When I teach from Romans chapter one and call homosexuality sin, I am now guilty of a hate crime. Here’s the thing we must understand. When we ignore one part of the Constitution, we are potentially ignoring the whole thing. When I am guaranteed the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion and this freedom is taken from me, we must be prepared for every other freedom to be taken from us in the future.

This is a sad day. I suggest we fly our flags at half-mast. We are not remembering the death of a famous leader. We are acknowledging the death of a nation.

At the same time, Jesus warned us of this. The Bible is clear that challenging days are ahead before the return of Christ. It is critical that Christians prepare for the storm that will only get worse. It is because events like what happened Friday that I wrote the book Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. Because the message of my book is so critical, I have asked Amazon to drop the price of my book to 99 cents. Unfortunately, I can’t get them to lower the price of the paperback to that amount, but I can control the price on the digital book somewhat. This discount should go into effect by tomorrow. I encourage you to prayerfully read my book and prepare for the days to come.

Remember what Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

United States vs. God

Gavel_flagIf you had told me thirty years ago that our Supreme Court would be contemplating passing a law requiring Americans to disregard the Word of God, I probably would not have believed you. I would have thought that our leaders, who are given the responsibility of “interpreting the Constitution and federal law and exercising judicial review to ensure state and federal statutes and policies that come before the Court comply with constitutional principles” (answers.com), would never create a law that stands in contradiction to our revered Constitution. I am afraid, however, that this may happen before the week is over.

Newsweek Magazine reported yesterday, “Many legal experts predict the court will legalize gay marriage nationwide by finding that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment under the law and due process prohibit states from banning same-sex nuptials.” If the court does legalize gay marriage, this will be the first time a law is passed that blatantly stands against the Bible. Roe vs. Wade certainly came close to such disregard of Scripture, but this issue puts the United States squarely in the camp of having no regard for God’s Truth

If this law passes, Christians will be told that they cannot act upon their belief that the Bible teaches marriage is to be between a man and a woman and that sexual acts between two people of the same sex is considered to be sin. I am burdened about this issue from several perspectives. The number one perspective is that our governing bodies will be legalizing immorality. This is dangerous ground for any nation. God says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (Psalm 33:12). The Lord Jehovah cannot be the God of a nation who passes laws that stand so clearly against the teaching of the Bible. If America is not blessed, then we are cursed. God help us.

If gay marriage is legalized, I also have a problem in that my Constitutional rights are violated. I have the right to free speech and the free exercise of my religious beliefs. This right will be infringed upon because it will become illegal for me to speak about my beliefs that homosexuality is a sin. Before you decide to attack me by saying I am a “homophobe,” I am not. I believe homosexuality is a sin just like any other sin. Have I lost my right to believe the Bible? God calls us to forsake sin and follow him. God loves the homosexual, just like He loves anyone else. Just like I would urge someone committing adultery to flee their sin and follow Jesus, I would do the same with someone practicing homosexuality. As an American, it is my right to have this belief. I am amazed at how liberals in our country label me as being intolerant while they are intolerant of me and my belief in the Bible. If gay marriage is legalized, this means America has indeed become a nation without a Constitution. God help us.

Court Foreshadows Coming Persecution

traditional_marriageBiblical values and teaching are under attack. As Supreme Court Justices recently discussed the constitutionality of same-sex marriages, Solicitor General Donald Verilli pointed out that religious colleges would potentially lose their tax-exempt status if they continued to only support traditional marriage. There is no doubt that this decision will bring about the same results in churches all across America. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently said in a speech to the Women of the World Summit, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Does Clinton’s statement bother you as much as it bothers me? It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to see where all of this is going. It seems that every day that passes our nation takes another giant leap away from the teachings of the Bible, which were the very principles upon which our Founding Fathers established our country. We are very close to laws being established that restrict freedom of speech and the teaching of the Word of God. Travis Weber of the Family Research Council recently warned that if the current trend continues, those who refuse to endorse same-sex marriage could face “fines, potentially imprisonment.” We are living in both troubling and exciting times. The church is about to experience very serious persecution in our own nation, but God’s Word tells us to comfort one another as the return of Christ draws ever closer.

How should Christians respond to this trend? Share your thoughts below and pass this along to your friends by clicking the social media links.

New Terror Threat Could Mean More Persecution of Christians

Alshabaab

New reports have come out this morning about heightened alerts of terror attacks in the United States in response to a new threat by an Al Qaeda linked group. A video has surfaced where a leader of Al Shabaab, is calling for attacks on shopping malls in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. This is the same group that was responsible for an attack on a shopping mall in Kenya where 67 people were killed. Witnesses said that gunmen in the Kenyan mall would ask the hostages questions to determine whether or not they were Christians. If the hostages were Christians and would not denounce their faith, they were killed. This type of persecution is typical for Christians living in the last days. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him for signs of His Second Coming, He told them that the persecution of Christians would be one evidence that His return was soon coming. He said in Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” He said in the next verse, “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” I think it is clear that as the return of Christ draws closer, it will not be popular to be a Christian and standing for Christ will be costly. There will be many church attenders and “religious” people who deny faith in Christ in response to this persecution.

Mark 13:32-33  says, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.” While Jesus said we do not know the day or hour of His return, He also told us to keep alert and to take heed. He is basically saying, “I have told you the signs that will come before My return so watch the news and read the papers. Be aware of what is going on and ready for My return.” While we do not know the exact date of Christ’s return, and it could still be some years off in the future, there are signs happening all around us that reveal His return could certainly be soon. Let’s pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are being persecuted all over the earth. Let’s spread the good news of the gospel. Our days may indeed be short and Christ’s return could very well be soon.

Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran

I just received this e-mail and wanted to pass it along for those of us who live near the city of Atlanta:

On Tuesday, January 13 come to the Georgia State Capitol and stand with Christians from around our state!

The unjust firing of Chief Kelvin Cochran by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has awakened believers from around our state and nation to the reality of Christian discrimination in the workplace. Now is the time for all Bible-believing Christians to show their support for Chief Cochran’s courage and for our First Amendment rights as American citizens!

Come stand for your faith and against anti-Christian bigotry with Chief Kelvin Cochran, pastors, church leaders and Christians. We will conclude our time together by walking to City Hall for a time of prayer.

What: Standing for Our Faith Rally
When: Tuesday, January 13, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Where: Georgia Capitol Rotunda
Who: Public Invited

Organized by concerned pastors:
Garland Hunt, garlandhunt1@gmail.com
Mike Griffin, mgriffin@gabaptist.org

Our Freedoms Under Attack

FreespeechIn my book, Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days, I share that Christians can expect to be persecuted in the days ahead. We have a Christian brother who is being persecuted and whose 2nd Amendment rights have been trampled. I am speaking of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran of Atlanta. He published a book entitled “Who Told You That You Were Naked,” which is book about what the Bible has to say about sin. Within the book, he refers to homosexuality as being a sin – which of course the Bible does say. The mayor of Atlanta did not like Cochran’s position on this issue, which means the mayor does not just disagree with Chief Cochran but also with God, so he fired Chief Cochran. This is deplorable and quite frankly, shocking. Where are all of the people who marched in New York to protest recently? Where is the ACLU? There should be a national uproar over trampling the rights of an American citizen for one of the freedoms we hold dear – the freedom of speech. I’m writing this because I think Christians must voice their concern and outrage at this unfair treatment. Fire Chief Cochran is a member of a Baptist church in Atlanta and wrote the book on his own time and self-published it originally as a Bible study on the topic of sin. Please sign a petition that is distributed by the Georgia Baptist Convention and voice your opinion to Mayor Kasim Reed. The petition and contact information for the mayor can be found at this site: http://gabaptist.org/petition. If the mayor’s office was flooded with letters and e-mails expressing our outrage, I believe it could make a difference in reinstating the chief. I’m sure Kasim Reed has future political aspirations, and he must know that U. S. citizens do not look favorably on political leaders who use their authority to attack a basic American freedom. In Paris, terrorists attacked the freedom of speech by murdering 12 employees of a magazine publisher. In Atlanta, this freedom was attacked by firing the Fire Chief. Something must be done to not only protect Chief Cochran but also to protect the U. S. Constitution.

Our Pledge of Allegiance Under Attack – Again

pledgeHere we go again. I just read an article about a current New Jersey lawsuit where an atheist is trying to remove “under God” from the pledge of allegiance. This family claims the Pledge of Allegiance “discriminates against children with atheist beliefs.” A Massachusetts court ruled in a similar case a while back that the words “under God” reflect a patriotic practice, not a religious one. We are slowly seeing our country move from the religious moorings of our forefathers to embrace a more secular/humanistic stance. If the humanists had their way, they would remove any reference to God from all of our history books. They do not care that our nation was founded upon Judeo/Christian principles and the Bible was a cornerstone to our Republic. I believe that groups like this will continue to fight until they eventually win. They will probably win simply because enough Christians have not spoken up through the years, and the church in America has failed to maintain our nation as a Christian nation. How did this happen? The bottom-line answer is that we are in a spiritual war, and our enemy is working night and day to move our nation away from God. The darkness is ever spreading, and the stakes are growing by the day. The enemy, however, is not the atheist filing this lawsuit or the humanists who support it. I wrote about our enemy, as outlined in Ephesians 6:12, in my new book, Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days. I told the story of a struggle with my neighbor and how God helped me to see that my neighbor is not my enemy:

Because the verse states we are not wrestling with people, it insinuates we ARE wrestling with spiritual forces. The word translated wrestling or struggling describes what soldiers would do in hand-to-hand combat. Though I’ve never been in the military, I imagine firing a missile at the enemy would be stressful, but hand-to-hand combat would be incredibly intense. Hand-to-hand combat is a life or death experience. The stakes are high. The effort is strenuous. The struggle is intense. There are things going on in a spiritual realm that are even more intense than the apparent circumstances. A war is being waged for my neighbor’s soul, and it took the perspective of my sensitive daughter to help me see that my enemy is not my neighbor.

While I want “under God” to remain in the pledge, we must realize that the stakes are higher than that. The Pledge is not the only thing being altered or silenced in our country. It is time for Christians to realize that God has called us to shine His light into a darkening world. What good will it do to keep the Pledge intact while seeing millions of lost souls spend eternity in hell? I think the church today must work to make sure that “under God” is not only spoken in our Pledge but also lived in our lives.