Friday, November 18, 2016

Post Election Fallout

Whenever you turn on the news, you get multiple assessments of our nation's and world's problems ad nauseam. Depending on which pundits, networks, or politicians you listen to, the explanations of the reasons for all the turmoil go on and on. In my latest book, Lectures from the Gates of Hell, I attempt to give Hell's perspective. Assuming you take seriously what Scripture teaches, this volume should offer some insight into what is happening all around us. Consider a few basic observations.

     First, people are not the enemy. Spiritual forces are at work to destroy humanity. Jesus pointed out that Satan's agenda is to kill, steal, and destroy. Satan's goal specifically is to destroy the work of God, and to create as much misery in the process as he possibly can. Satan's attacks are against people, all of whom are created in the image of God. If you are a living breathing human being, you are a target.

   Second, life is a massive battle-field where Satan is attempting to destroy God's work, God's people, and humanity in general. When you look at the sources of all your troubles, they are all rooted in the spiritual dimension. Consider what is driving the turmoil and misery you observe. Instead of pointing at a person (or a political party) to affix blame, consider the true source.

     Third, the real problem for each person is the presence of sin in the human heart. That is the foot-hold of Satan in each of us. And that is what Jesus came to deliver us from. Until we see this clearly, we will continue to swirl around in the circumstances created by Satan.

     Until we see life from God's perspective, we are simply spinning our wheels as the old saying goes. Learn more in my new book, Lectures from the Gates of Hell. You can get it on sale at, or your local bookstore.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Claiming the Promises of God in Uncertain Times

We live in a world full of uncertainty. In recent days we have had a bombing in New York and a knife attack at a mall in Minnesota. We are in the midst of a presidential election season and no one knows how that will go. Yet when I examine the life of Paul, I am struck by the fact that two truths kept him going even through times of uncertainty and adversity: first, he knew the Lord, and second he knew and claimed the promises of God. These same two truths can give us strength to carry on as well.

In 2 Corinthians 1:20, Paul writes, "For all the promises of God in Him (Christ) are yes, and in Him amen, to the glory of God through us. "What I see here is that claiming the promises of God requires knowing the identity of God. Who is He? He is the one who makes promises, and the one who keeps promises.

Next, I notice that claiming the promises of God requires embracing the the intentions of God. We must understand that all the promises of God are "yes" in Christ. That means the reason those promises are offered is because of who Christ is, and because of what He has accomplished and because of what He deserves. These promises are for us who are "in Christ."

Finally, claiming the promises of God requires our willingness to respond to the initiatives of God. God's promises are appropriated by faith, and are for the purpose of glorifying the Father (helping a watching world see who He is in our daily live).

Repeatedly, we see in Scripture the pattern that we can be confident in what God is doing in the here and now because we have confidence in (we have seen) what He has done in the past.

Here is a promise for you to practice knowing, believing, and claiming from Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Now, that is simple (and profound) enough to last a lifetime.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Another Pastor Is Stepping Down....

In 1980, the musical group Queen released a chart-topping song, "Another One Bites the Dust." The refrain says simply,

"Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust 
And another one gone and another one gone 
Another one bites the dust..."

I spent almost 23 years as a pastor in Nashville. Through the years, I have seen pastors develop acute illnesses and die young, some pastors were run off, others had moral failings, some were dismissed because they were getting "too old," and some quit out of utter frustration.

Time after time good churches and good men were under spiritual attack. Now, sadly,  I see another pastor stepping down. 

I can almost hear the demons singing, "Another one bites the dust." Do you think it is not a designed spiritual attack on the church? Think again.

You can read more about this phenomenon in my newest book, Lectures from the Gates of Hell. It is coming out next month.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

John Grisham

     I have to confess, ever since my eyes caught sight of THE FIRM displayed at Barnes & Noble years ago, I have been a John Grisham fan. Grisham tells a great story, but what I love about his writing is that he manages to weave a moral insight into most of his books. A TIME TO KILL is a story about justice and those who fight for it at personal risk. GRAY MOUNTAIN is a story about poverty, dishonest big business, and legitimate environmental concerns. ROGUE LAWYER is a series of vignettes about an attorney who defends the indefensible.

     THE CHAMBER affected me more than most of his other writings. It is the story of one case of capital punishment. It was told in such a way, however, that the observer sees the politics involved, and the image and perception issues of politicians who make the decision to execute a convicted felon. It asks the serious question of what is justice. Sub-plots that emerge are discussions of the incredible amounts of money spent on no hope defenses, the sadness of those who cannot afford a credible defense, and the what ifs should a person be proved innocent post-execution. It made me reevaluate how I view the whole issue of capital punishment.

     What I find most intriguing about Grisham's work, is his ability to expose moral issues, wrap them in a story, and facilitate thought on those issues. Psychologists point out that normally the reticular activation system (RAS) inside the brain prohibits the consideration of new facts should they run contrary to our preconceived opinions. When wrapped in a story, however, that RAS can be by-passed and serious issues can be examined. Grisham is a master at this.

     In my newest book, LECTURES FROM THE GATES OF HELL, I examine how humanity is at war with Satan and his minions. I tell it in such a way, hopefully, that people will see past their preconceived notions and realize that spiritual warfare is not fantasy, but cold hard reality. I have learned a thing or two from Grisham and his writing.

Friday, September 2, 2016


Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch political theologian, wrote, "When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith." Keep this counsel in mind as we consider the state of today's Middle East.

     In Syria, Iraq, and Libya, Christianity is being systematically destroyed by ISIS and groups which think as they do. Even our State Department has declared what is happening in these countries is nothing short of genocide. The majority of those targeted are Christians. Thousands have been systematically executed. Catholic observers have recorded untold numbers of  widespread rape, kidnapping, forced conversions, slavery, property confiscations, and forced expulsions on top of the genocide. Mass graves are spread all over the Middle East.

     The number of confessing Christians in Iraq has declined from 1.5 million to less than 200,000. In Syria, Christians have declined from 1.5 million to around 500,000. Those who are being systematically executed are among the oldest ethic in and religious communities in the world. Many of these groups face extinction. Present projections indicate that in the next five years, Christianity will all but disappear in Iraq, and possibly in Syria and Libya as well.

     So, how should today's Christian communities in the West respond to this genocide? Receiving refugees from the Middle East is risky especially since 99% of those coming to the West are unvetted Muslims. Why does the United States government not consider giving Christians refuge? Something is wrong with the system and I do not see any appropriate response from our nation's leaders.

     Yet, there is more behind this genocide than simply a war between multiple factions of Islam. I address part of this in my new book, Lectures from the Gates of Hell, due out next month. The real issues are bone-chilling to say the least.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Summer Beach Read

A few weeks ago, our family took a vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We spent a week at Duck, famous for Duck Donuts. The little town is just north of Kitty Hawk where the Wright brothers made history flying their first heavier than air plane off the sand dunes just after the turn of the 20th century. For us it was a joyful time playing with our kids and grand kids and generally hanging out with our family. Fern and I love making those kinds of memories.

     With time to relax, I indulged in a summer beach read, Haruki Murakami's What I Talk about When I Talk about Running:A Memoir. The book is a recollection of various events related to the intersection of his two passions, running and writing. I found the book both insightful and sad. It was insightful because it gave insight into a disciplined life. It was sad because of the admission that life is passing all too quickly, and for him there is no hope of a life beyond. I would like to draw your attention to a few of the positive insights from his memoir. Murakami's wrote:

     - "The gym where I work out in Tokyo has a poster that say, 'Muscles are hard to gain and easy to lose. Fat is easy to gain and hard to lose.' A painful reality, but a reality just the same." This is a nice reminder of the importance of staying disciplined, eating well, and getting sufficient exercise and rest. It sounds like Galatians 6:7 and the principle of sowing and reaping.

     -"There are three reasons I failed [In a particular race]. Not enough training. Not enough training. And not enough training." This, too, is a good reminder of seeing and learning from the obvious. Training and discipline are integral to every accomplishment in life. In 1 Timothy 4:7, Paul admonished Timothy to "train yourself to be godly."

     -"This is a trite observation, but as they say: If something is worth doing, it's worth giving your best--or in some cases beyond your best." Again, this is a nice reminder of the importance of doing any and all jobs well. Paul reminded us in Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartedly, as for the Lord and not for man."

     Well, these "nice reminders" are a few of Murakami's thoughts. I hope you find them inspiring interesting. The book helped motivate me to be a better writer, and a better runner.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Next Election: What Is At Stake?

     In the next few weeks, both the Republican and Democratic Parties will finalize their nominations for the President and Vice-President of the United States. In November the country will elect a new President and Vice-President. Greater than the personalities at the head of each ticket will be the agendas each party presents as its guiding principles. These are incorporated in the party platforms which will soon be made public. From my perspective, a litany of critical issues are at stake. Consider the implications of the next election on the direction of our nation.

     First, the President has the responsibility to nominate Supreme Court Justices. Whichever party wins the White House will determine what kind of Justices will be nominated. The critical question is do we as a nation want a court that legislates from the bench, or one that honestly interprets proposed laws based upon original intent? Issues related to abortion and the sanctity of human life, religious liberty and the defense of the free exercise clause, and government over-reach will be decided by the make-up of the Supreme Court. The notion that this does not matter is nonsense. The vote in November will affect the standards of the nation for the next 25-35 years.

     Second, the President has the responsibility to reign in runaway government spending. The amount of the national debt is staggering. It has doubled over the last 8 years. The people of the United States cannot afford to continue on this trajectory. The size and scope of our government needs to be curtailed. If anyone continued to spend borrowed money with no intention of paying it back, we would consider it theft. Why should we assume that this is acceptable when it comes to our national government? Moreover, a serious revision of how our government collects and distributes tax money is way past due.

     Third, the issue of Religious Liberty and the insistence on  the practice of the free exercise clause must be protected. The idea that a pastor would be forced to remain silent on a moral issue  because someone labels a biblical conviction as "hate-speech," is unacceptable. The notion that a Christian would be forced to violate his or her conscience is unacceptable. Government intimidation of churches and threatening to remove tax-exempt status is unacceptable.

     These are three issues that are critical in my estimation.