Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
There are many ways to say it, but all of them are meant to be warm and welcoming. While I have been privileged to visit 22 countries around the world, so many of you have visited me from all over the globe. In the last month, you have “stopped in” from the following countries (in addition to the United States):
Algeria India Poland
Australia Indonesia Portugal
Austria Ireland Qatar
Bahamas Italy Romania
Belgium Jamaica Russia
Brunei Japan Saudia Arabia
Burundi Kenya Sierra Leone
Cambodia Kuwait Singapore
Cameroon Latvia Somalia
Canada Lebanon South Africa
Cayman Islands Lesotho South Korea
China Liberia Spain
Colombia Madagascar Sri Lanka
Croatia Malawi Sudan
Dominican Republic Mexico Sweden
Egypt Moldova Tanzania
Fiji Morocco Thailand
Finland Myanmar Trinidad & Tobago
France Namibia Turkey
Germany Nepal Uganda
Ghana Netherlands Ukraine
Greece New Zealand United Arab Emirates
Grenada Nigeria United Kingdom
Guyana Pakistan Vanuatu
Hong Kong Peru Vietnam
Hungary Philippines Zambia
I do not know how many languages or religions you represent, but I am thrilled you are interested enough to read this blog. It is dedicated to New Testament Christianity, built upon the belief that the Bible is the Word of God and communicates His complete will for all people everywhere. If you have any Bible questions and I can be of service, please do not hesitate to reply to the blog. I will do my best to answer it at quickly as possible. All of us are looking for answers to life’s biggest question. I am convinced the Bible has the answer to any question that ultimately matters. And, please, come back to the blog any time!
Today, everyone is hurting. Whether because of gun or knife violence or vehicular homicide, groups of people in our nation and other parts of the world are being torn from time and prematurely vaulted into eternity. We weep and mourn for the loss. We consider the enormous grief and heartache multiplied many families face from California to Florida, Connecticut to Texas, Colorado to Tennessee, Virginia to Nevada (and many other places). Those whose voices we hear the most through all of this, like the national and local media, seem fixated on learning the perpetrator’s motive each time it occurs. Experts and analysts look at religious ideology or mental health issues. It seems as if they believe that if they can determine the motive, that will solve the violent epidemic that has disturbed the peace of so many people in our society. The danger of oversimplifying any specific tragedy notwithstanding, there are some right answers the world will have a difficult time embracing but that get us so much closer to resolving this plaguing problem. Why are these horrific crimes occurring?
Brethren, in this frightening, dark, and uncertain atmosphere, a world which “lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), we must share what we know! John says, “We know that we are of God…and we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (5:19a, 20). We have security, confidence, understanding, and hope, all because of God and His Son. Take courage and share that with everyone you can! It’s the only hope the world has!
I woke up just before 5 AM to an ominous notification from my Jerusalem Post app. Downstairs, turning on the news, the horrific truth was confirmed. The worst mass shooting in modern American history. Not long after, I was in my gym locker room. A gym buddy, Mike, a self-described C&E (i.e., “Christmas And Easter”) Catholic, greeted me. Usually, I am not tempted to ask this, but I found myself asking him, “How does something like this happen?” His 5-word, profound answer was, “No love, no Jesus, man.”
Some random thoughts occurred to me, in processing the events in Las Vegas late on Sunday night, October 1st.
Big questions emerge from this fog of suffering. Christians, we not only have the answer, but as God works through us, we are the answer! I read a social media post from Sheila Butt, challenging us to take Christianity off the pew and into our daily lives. The soul we reach and life we help change might change the course of the world for good (or the prevention of evil). Mike nailed it. “No love, no Jesus, man.” Amen!
The percentage of Americans who identify as atheists doubled from 2007 to 2014 (Michael Lipka, Pew Research Center). But that hardly tells the whole story. Our culture is drowning in a political correctness that stigmatizes Christian Values and that makes nearly any public stand or statement regarding what Scripture says about such things as homosexuality, objective truth, the sanctity of life, and creation a point of fierce contention and object of greatest scorn. A moral erosion and slippery slope has been in motion for several generations that has brought us to our current position. The Bible foresaw such decline as comes when a people turn their backs on God (cf. Prov. 14:34). In discussing the universal problem of sin, Paul points out five facts about a faithless people (Rom. 1:18-32):
Why does Paul mention these faithless ones? It is proof of divine inspiration, because although this was written 2000 years ago it perfectly describes the current culture. But, there is a more important reason for Paul to write this. This horrible condition has a remedy. The theme of Romans is contained in the four verses prior to this section. The gospel has the power to save us from this. The solution is faith. Faith saves (1:16) and it gives life (1:17). The world is being swallowed by spiritual darkness, but God’s light is brighter. We who have faith have the light. We must share it. When we do, we help people have the most important possible commodity: faith!
Terrorist madmen shoot up a school in Pakistan and kill over 100 people, mostly children. A politically correct society is close to forbidding biblical teaching on matters that violates its bombastic code. Pluralism (all religious paths are equally valid) and syncretism (blending two or more religious belief systems into a new system) seem to grow more popular in the religious philosophy of a great many. An erosion of morality and ethics seems to daily redefine acceptable norms and boundaries so that things not long ago thought outrageous are now not just tolerated but celebrated. The culture of unbelief and agnosticism spreads while the spirit of humble dependency upon God seems to shrink. When we pause to consider all of this, our head can spin and we can begin to question how this happened and so quickly.
Paul often writes that we are engaged in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-13; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 Tim. 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:12). While we will witness violence, hatred, gross immorality, an anything goes mentality, and the like, lost sinners are not the enemy. They embrace the thinking and values of the enemy, but Paul says such people are ensnared and held captive by the enemy (1 Tim. 6:9; 2 Tim. 2:26), “caught” (Gal. 6:1), and “subject to slavery” (Heb. 2:15). New Testament writers pinpoint the source of this enormous problem as:
Peter simply calls him our adversary (1 Pet. 5:8). In the gospel, Jesus often alludes to him as the enemy. From Christ’s temptations in Matthew 4, we learn that he has been given the power over “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (8). They are his to dispense and disperse (9). New Testament writers pinpoint this domain with its unrighteous thinking simply as “the world” (Jas. 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). All who submit to living according to the thinking and values of this world are submitting to this ruler, god, prince, force, and evil one. They are pledging allegiance to his way and being guided by his leadership.
We can see the devastating effect this is having on the peace and the practice of the masses. Yet, we must resist it in our individual lives. Perhaps Paul said it most concisely when he wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Many of the spiritual problems in our lives can be pinpointed to our following the wrong leader. May God give us the wisdom and discernment to see through his destructive schemes!
At the corner of Oak and Griffey
Lived an old man, Cyrus Diffy. (*)
A lifelong skeptic, centered on self
With Dawkins and Darwin on his shelf
He scoffed at those he thought “too much,”
Who leaned on religion as their crutch.
Whose faith was rested on their Bible
Were subject to his scorn and libel.
His own morality and ethics were iffy
He was his own rule, Cyrus Diffy
No one could tell him how to live
For others he had nothing to give
Scorn metastasized, and he grew bitter
Spewed his venom on Facebook, on Twitter
With chip on shoulder, he sought debate
Relished each moment “the faith” to hate
One morning in his chair in one quick jiffy
The last breath was breathed by Cyrus Diffy
He lifted up his eyes in a place most unpleasant
With him each skeptic and agnostic were present
Yet like him they no longer could fuel their doubt
Now in this painful place with no door to get out.
He’d tied his whole life to his naturalistic bent
But rejected the Savior the Father had sent.
Let’s sum up concisely, I’ll try to be pithy
Here’s what we can learn from old Cyrus Diffy
We all hitch our wagons to some conviction
Determine what’s truth and what is fiction
Design exists, it points to a designer.
We feel moral ought, know what’s coarse, what’s finer
We’re built to worship, we possess intellect.
When charting life’s course, every angle inspect.
View your worldview, consider its implications
Choose based on logic not potential complications
Christian, you might pass by a place like Oak and Griffey
Live Christ well before all folks like the late Cyrus Diffy.
(*) “Cyrus Diffy” is a random name I made up and is
not meant to refer to anyone real having that name.