Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Reason for Optimism in 2010

Ever since the 2008 national election, it seems that we have been treated to an endless stream of “bad news” stories capable of dampening the spirits of the most dyed-in-the-wool optimists among us. Politicians bent on remaking the nature of the USA into something utterly unrecognizable by her founding fathers seem to be winning the day.

Christians have fasted, prayed, joined fellow patriots in tea parties and other forms of protests, jammed congressional phone lines in an effort to communicate heart-felt concerns, sent endless emails, faxes, and “pink slips” to their members of Congress. But, to date, it seems these efforts have not checked our descent toward oblivion. It appears as though we have engaged a supernatural force for evil that has been impervious to all efforts at mitigating its destructive designs. Certain government leaders seem to have taken a page from Muslim terrorists in assuming almost a suicidal effort to pass their agenda, election results come what may.

It is my opinion that our nation’s very existence is threatened in a manner not seen before, with the possible exception of the War Between the States in the mid-19th century. In the midst of this crisis for the soul and future of America, is there any hope?

Recently I have been reading a biography of Nathaniel Green, George Washington’s top general during the War for Independence. One of the repeated themes permeating the book is the extremely tenuous thread that supported the revolutionary fervor of the Founders. On numerous occasions, our fledgling forces were on the verge of being wiped out by the superior British. But our understanding of history is so weak that we have forgotten the nature of that war.

On February 6, 1783 Washington wrote the following to Green:
“If Historiographers should be hardy enough to fill the page of History with the advantages that have been gained with unequal numbers [on the part of America] in the course of this contest, and attempt to relate the distressing circumstances under which they have been obtained, it is more than probable that Posterity will bestow on their labors the epithet and marks of fiction; for it will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this Country could be baffled in their plan of Subjugating it by numbers infinitely less, composed of Men oftentimes half starved; always in Rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing” (Sacred Fire, 174).

In other words, Washington is suggesting that future generations would not believe that such weak and bedraggled American forces were capable of defeating the British, the world’s superpower. They would consider the truth to be fiction. Time and again the Americans “miraculously” survived and won. Washington did not hesitate to credit Providence as the unseen force behind their victories.

The remnant of believers in America today are, humanly speaking, out-manned, out-gunned, out-spent, and out-organized by the powerful forces bent on changing our country. But such factors are no match for the Spirit and power of God.

2500 years ago, the Lord encouraged another overwhelmed people with these words, “Not by might nor by power, but my My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). The allied political and media conglomerate that is seeking to foist its agenda upon the American populace is no match for the people of God when they trust in His power, even as they necessarily continue the fight on human terms.

May God encourage your soul and strengthen your hands for battle. In the end, Righteousness and Truth will prevail. Let us not fear the onslaughts of the wicked; let us persevere, knowing that the battle is ultimately the Lord’s.

The secret to eventual victory for the people of God is humble repentance and genuine faith—not enhanced fundraising, community organizing, and slick political machines. The truth of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is timeless. The restoration process may yet involve some very dark days for America. Economic and social upheaval, on an unprecedented scale, may be the consequences to be paid for our profligate sins of the past. But, ultimately, blessed is this, and any nation, whose God is the Lord (Ps. 33:12).

Compromised media, corrupt politicians, chicken-hearted leaders, and careless Christians notwithstanding, God’s eye—and His blessing—rest upon those who truly fear Him (Ps. 33:18). God told Abraham He would spare Sodom if just ten righteous men could be found. Let us determine to be that faithful remnant for whom the Lord will spare and restore this nation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Proof Is in the Pudding

Don Quixote is evidently the origin of the adage: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” That is, the true quality of something can only be determined by using it. The meticulously prepared dessert dish may look delectable, but one only knows for sure by tasting it.

Similarly, Jesus declared that people would recognize true Christianity only as they observed His followers practicing it in their daily lives: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Sermons of flawless logic, impeccable organizational structure, highly charged worship services, and a large budget are not cited as evidences of genuine Christianity in action. Instead, Jesus points to the practical outworking of loving relationships.

This dimension is the means by which Christianity must be proclaimed to a skeptical world. And, indeed, praise is coming from some unexpected quarters.

Matthew Parris writes for the U.K. Times Online, being twice honored as “Columnist of the Year.” He is also an outspoken atheist. Yet he has high praise for Christianity’s impact in Africa. “[A] confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects, and international aid efforts.”

Parris used to wish that faith could simply be divorced from all the good things that Christians do and build. But he now appreciates how the Christian faith has transformed the hearts of people from the Africa he knew as a boy. “[S]omething changed in the faces of the people … something in their eyes … the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away.”

Parris has not (yet) embraced Christianity himself, but he has taken a giant step in the right direction by observing the genuine fruits of conversion. The characteristics of honesty, diligence, and optimism he attributes to “a conception of man’s place in the universe that Christianity had taught.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Marriage in Trouble

It’s not often that a cover story in Time reinforces the Bible. But in the July 13th issue, Caitlin Flanagan eloquently did just that. Lambasting adulterous politicians Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. John Ensign, Mrs. Flanagan exposed their self-centered hypocrisy for the destructive behavior that it is. Both men built reputations as conservative and family-friendly. But their actions belie their professions.

Their sorry narcissism adds fuel to the fire of those who argue that conservative, pro-family leaders are hypocrites who spout idealistic principles in an effort to curry the favor of a certain segment of the voting population.

Numerous observers have documented the schizophrenia of American culture with respect to marriage. Society continues to uphold the ideal of a permanent, child-bearing marriage broken only by death. Yet, in practice, the decisions to marry and stay married have been declining for decades. Increasingly, people are choosing cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing, or having no children.

Utilizing the hard facts of social science, Flanagan concludes: “There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage.” Even feminist sociologist Maria Kefalas is forced to concede that growing up without a father has a deep psychological impact on a child: “The mom may not need that man, but her children still do.”

The weakened state of American marriage is due to an unrealistic, romantic view of marriage setting impossible expectations that no relationship can achieve, and the myopic failure to account for the devastating consequences of marital breakup.

Flanagan wonders who is left to ensure that the next generation will appreciate the stability and blessings found only in enduring marriage. Her biting answer strikes at the heart of much marital failure: “the ones who are willing to sacrifice the thrill of a love letter for the betterment of their children.”

The bedrock of an enduring society, stable homes require hard work and regular maintenance. But unless present trends are reversed, cultural deterioration will only intensify.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Consequences of Conflicting Visions

This year the world remembers two men whose impacts upon society are beyond measure. July 10th marks the 500th birthday of John Calvin. Charles Darwin was born 200 years ago on February 12th.

By any reckoning, both men are giants of history. But it would be difficult to find two men with more contrasting visions of life and its significance. Darwin wrote that the laws of nature, apart from God, can explain “the beneficent arrangement of the world.” Rejecting a sovereign Creator, Darwin argued that an evolutionary process in which the fittest survive produced the human race.

Calvin taught the existence of God and that all men are accountable to Him. A product of God’s creative work, humans are obligated to worship God their Creator, seeking forgiveness for their sins that are an offence to His holiness.

The consequences of a Darwinian worldview are abundant and devastating. If men are the products of time and chance, ultimately life has no meaning. There can be no moral absolutes because God doesn’t exist. People are free to follow their own whims, biases, and perversions. No one is in a position to condemn the lifestyle of others. Darwinian thinking thus leads to moral and spiritual chaos.

Conversely, Calvin emphasized that the moral absolutes of God’s character must be the standards of human society. We can condemn certain lifestyle choices because God does. As Creator, He sets the standard for His universe. Moreover, there is such a thing as sin that must be recognized and restrained by society. Our own republican representative government grew out of a Calvinistic mindset. Darwin’s followers became proponents of Marxism and totalitarianism.

Calvin has left a legacy of respect for human life, the family as defined by the Bible, and the necessity of society operating under the law of God. The fruit of Darwinism is moral relativism, leading to abortion on demand, racism, eugenics, and oppression of the helpless.

Thank God for Calvin!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bending God

Years ago I knew of a prisoner who was devoutly following his religion. Asked why he faithfully engaged in various rituals, he replied that he was “bending God.” He was saying prayers and reading from his holy book in an effort to induce his god to respond as he wanted.

This man was not a Christian. But his worldview is sometimes found among those who profess to follow Christ. The question that must be answered is this: Is God a means to an end, or the end for which all exists? In other words, does God exist to make our lives comfortable, safe, and prosperous? Or is our existence ordained so that we may glorify His name through all of life, whether it is peaceful or turbulent, prosperous or penniless?

Popular preachers sometimes suggest the former; the Bible teaches the latter. Some of God’s choicest servants, in biblical times and since, have suffered tremendously and died in poverty—simply because they were faithful to their calling. The Christian experience is much deeper than mere material and financial well being

British writer C. S. Lewis said it well: “I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

No, the Christian life is a ceaseless struggle against sin and temptation as we journey toward eternity. Sometimes the Christian identity brings tremendous peril, even death. We grieve over our lack of faithfulness to our God. But we understand that our guilt was born by the Savior. So we rejoice in that forgiveness, striving to serve God in a spirit of gratitude and faithfulness.

God’s purpose is not to be a “genie in the bottle” waiting to grant our next wish.
We humans exist for the glory and praise of God, the Creator. Make that your chief end.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Patrick Henry: Fatherhood Personified

Patrick Henry is famous for his eloquent statesmanship, a powerful force in the founding of our nation. His “give me liberty or give me death” speech is one of the best known in American history; his fiery oratory was one of the factors God used to fan the flames of liberty.

But Henry was more than a zealot for freedom. He understood his God-given responsibilities as a father and strove to fulfill them with excellence. Indeed, as the father of seventeen children and grandfather of seventy, some have humorously suggested that he, not George Washington, should be considered the father of our country!

Beyond the bearing of sons and daughters, Patrick Henry took upon himself the task of preparing them for life and eternity to come. It was his habit to devote Sunday evenings to a time of family worship. He would read portions from the Bible or favorite sermons, along with accompanying the family in singing sacred music as he played the violin.

Henry served as the principal teacher for his school-age children, inspiring them to learn and apply themselves for life. He further tutored his sons in law, one of them becoming a lawyer like himself while another served as a county sheriff.

Beyond academics, he counseled his children for marital success: “My Dear Daughter: You have just entered into that state which is replete with happiness or misery. The issue depends upon that prudent, amiable, uniform conduct which wisdom and virtue so strongly recommend on the one hand, or on that imprudence which a want of reflection or passion may prompt on the other.”

Patrick Henry knew that a stable society must rest upon the foundation of strong homes. He sought to lead by example, understanding that the authority a man “exercised within the larger society was rooted in the authority exercised at home.”

There is a dearth of engaged fathers today. As you celebrate Father’s Day 2009, be inspired by the actions of Patrick Henry.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dr. Spock vs. the Bible

The seventh best-selling book of all time was published by Dr. Spock in 1946, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Having sold over 50 million copies and been translated into more than 40 languages, it is hard to overestimate the profound influence his theories have had on our civilization.

Dr. Spock advocated a permissive style of parenting catering to children’s whims and preferences instead of a more directive approach requiring adherence to established standards of behavior. Indulgence, rather than discipline, was the methodology he promoted, ultimately producing defiance toward authority and a self-centered “me-first” approach to life in general.

The fruit of the Spock influence is painfully apparent. The violent crime rate has tripled since 1960. The sexual revolution rages unabated. Today 25% of teenage girls are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. There has been a 318 % increase in sexual assault. Lack of self-control and restraint of passions is the unmistakable consequence of indulgent parenting.

The Bible, in stark contrast, warns parents of the need to deal firmly with the sinful inclinations of their children. Proverbs 22:15 declares, “Foolish is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Elsewhere, Proverbs argues that a parent who refuses to exercise proper correction actually “hates” his son, whereas the “loving” parent “disciplines him promptly.”

Too frequently we are shocked by news stories of violence perpetrated by children and youth. Ever since Cain murdered Abel there has always been a violent minority in society. But one cannot miss the overwhelming tide of brutality and profligacy sweeping our society today in a manner unheard of 50 years ago.

While we cannot lay all of the blame at the feet of Dr. Spock, it is inarguable that his seminal book started a revolution that has been promoted by countless other “experts.”

Consistent discipline through the loving enforcement of established boundaries and standards is God’s method. It works.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The End of Christian America?

The April 13th issue of Newsweek featured a cover with the blaring headline: “The End of Christian America.” The title was not a question but a declaration. A subheading for the story stated, “The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades.”

An old axiom reminds us that he who defines the terms wins the debate. Whether the article represents reality is entirely predicated upon how one understands the descriptive “Christian nation.” If the predominant religious make-up of a nation determines its label, then assuredly we remain a Christian nation.

76% of Americans still identify themselves as Christians, rendering comparatively insignificant the 1.2% Jewish and 0.6 % Muslim segments. India’s identity as a Hindu nation is never questioned, despite Hindus comprising just over 80% of the population.

One cannot escape the sense that Newsweek made its case with some relish. Indeed, many in the secular media choose to portray conservative Christians as being out-of-touch with the sophisticated worldview of 21st century humanity, one which assumes that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Christianity’s exclusive claims are abhorrent to those who relativize all beliefs and lifestyles.

There is no denying that the influence of the Christian worldview, so formative in the founding of our nation, has been in decline. If present patterns continue, we will follow in the footsteps of Western Europe where Christianity has dwindled to merely a sideshow to the dominant secularism.

But the sleeping giant of American Christianity is slowly awakening. The theme for a major national conference this summer is “The Great Reversal: How Christians Will Change the Future”—the third such annual event in this series (see Despite the prognosis that the impact of Christianity in the U.S. has been relegated to the dustbin of history, a groundswell of revival is calling our nation back to her spiritual roots. It remains but wishful thinking for the enemies of the faith to declare the era of Christian influence in America over.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Superior Weaponry

The nations of the world are in a ceaseless struggle to achieve military strength and ultimately superiority. Nearly every day we hear news of some nation testing a new missile or another pursuing nuclear weapons. The U.S. has followed a doctrine of peace through strength, of achieving overwhelming military dominance, thereby deterring others from taking offensive action against us.

The Bible speaks to the role of superior weaponry in the familiar story of David vs. Goliath. The shepherd boy defeated the veteran warrior--not through an overwhelming display of strength but because of his unwavering confidence that God’s power would bring him victory.

As the Israeli army quaked in fear with their impotent king, David answers Goliath’s defiant words with the following: “The battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

A timeless lesson from this story is that the Almighty is not limited to human firepower in granting victory. Goliath fell because God inspired a boy to trust him and guided his sling-impelled stone to its deadly mark.

Today in America we face giant challenges to our moral and economic integrity. The circumstances appear to be so overwhelming that there is little we can do but submit. Despair can be immobilizing, the apparent disparity of strength paralyzing.

But we who know God must remember the lesson of David. The Lord delights in using the efforts of the weak and “outgunned” so that His name and power are justly honored when deliverance comes. Let us be encouraged to step out in faith and take action to resist the will of the “giants” in our land. The battle is not lost. Rather, it is time for the people of God to rise to the occasion and recognize that ultimately His power will prevail.

This ancient story does not teach pacifism. Instead, faithful men are called to utilize whatever means at their disposal, recognizing that victory ultimately comes through divine intervention.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Making It to Heaven

Most people hope to make it to Heaven. Regardless of how much fun you might be having now, there is an inherent recognition that life will eventually end. But many wish to delay departure for as long as possible. As a popular country song puts it, “Everybody wanna go to Heaven, but nobody wanna go now.” For every person, however, the time to pass on will come.

Assuming you wish to enter Heaven’s gate, how will you get there? Understandably, there are some very diverse opinions on this subject. We know that God is holy, just, merciful, and good. Hence, it seems perfectly logical that to be granted an eternal home in Heaven one must strive to be as good as possible during one’s years on earth.

Indeed, a survey of 1000 randomly selected adults last year confirmed this perspective as dominant. Only 28% were convinced that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior.

The critical flaw in this perspective, however, is that it is God who determines the qualifications for residency in Heaven, not human reasoning. He has spoken decisively on the subject: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Thus the door to Heaven is opened by the work of God Himself in changing the human soul and imparting spiritual life. Through the work of Christ, God grants saving grace. The changed soul responds by embracing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Don’t be deluded into thinking that you can achieve sufficient goodness through your own efforts. God doesn’t grade on a curve. The required perfection for heavenly citizenship comes only through the merit of His Son, Jesus. The necessity of the crucifixion points to the inability of humans to be saved apart from Christ and His work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Prudent Investing

We are told that, since the 2008 general election, three trillion dollars have evaporated from investment portfolios across the country. Retirement accounts have been decimated, causing no small degree of consternation among those concerned about preparing for the future. The pattern continues.

What should a prudent investor do in these turbulent and distressing times? Which investments are likely to pay off in the long term? Which are most likely to appreciate or at least maintain their buying power in the face of a severe recession or worse? If you investigate these matters you will find a spectrum of responses proposed by financial gurus and money managers. Whom should you trust? Which advice is worth risking your future financial solvency by following its prescription? There are no easy answers.

The fact is, however, there is a capital depletion of far greater consequence than the precipitous decline on Wall Street. If we desire America to prosper in the long term, it is vital that we rebuild her spiritual capital. For, without such a foundation, we are headed for crises that will dwarf the current economic turbulence.

During the Great Depression times were economically tough, but the moral fabric of the nation prevented widespread chaos. Today, we have lost much of the spiritual foundation that once held communities together. Weekly church attendance, as one indicator, has been steadily declining. In 1990, 20.4 percent worshipped weekly in church. In 2007 the figure dropped to 17 percent. And it is projected to be just 10 percent by 2050. Our society has become secularized and relativized to the point that many no longer believe in objective truth.

While the importance of a free market, sound money, and a government that fulfills only its God-given mandate are important, they pale in significance to the spiritual values of our civilization. Christians must be busy recapitalizing true faith and character. From the right spiritual capital will eventually flow the economic stability we all desire.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama Beats Jesus

As shocking as that declaration may be to some people, it is precisely the headline that appeared in news outlets recently. The full statement is: Obama beats Jesus as American ‘hero.’ The story is based upon the results of a new Harris poll asking citizens to name the person they admired enough to call their No. 1 hero. The 2,634 respondents spontaneously named the person for whom they had the highest regard.

In 2001 an identical poll was taken. The top two then were Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King. Obama had yet to make his appearance on the national scene.

For the record, this is not a political issue. I would be equally incensed if the poll had found that any other politician had replaced Jesus in the top spot.

As Christians, we regard Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of God who came to save His people from their sins. He certainly deserves higher status than merely being considered a “hero.” But the fact that a poll finds that more Americans have a greater regard for Barak Obama than Jesus Christ is not insignificant.

Jesus is the only person who ever fully achieved His billing as a great man and the Savior of the world. None who believe in Him will ever be disappointed. In contrast, President Obama’s sky-high approval numbers have already begun a significant decline. He cannot live up to the messianic aura that has surrounded his candidacy and early presidency. He is only human; he will make mistakes; he will disappoint.

We must resist the mass frenzy that places any mere human on too exalted a pedestal. We are called to pray for our civil leaders, but we are commanded to worship Jesus Christ.

A poll is simply a tool to gauge public opinion. In this case, the Harris poll reveals an ominous trend that will lead to regret and disillusionment.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Positive Lesson from MLB

With Super Bowl XLIII now history, some us look forward to the start of Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, most of the news about MLB recently has been bad. Some of the game’s biggest stars have become tainted with allegations of steroid use. But let me wash away those sordid stories with one of great inspiration and instruction.

Back in the mid 80s Tim Burke started pitching for the Montreal Expos. Burke set a National League record with 78 appearances in his rookie year in 1985 and won his first eight major league decisions. By 1987 he became the leader of the Expos’ bullpen, going 7-0, with 18 saves and an outstanding ERA of 1.19. He was voted to the NL all-star team in 1989 when he saved 28 games and went 9-3 for the season.

When Tim and his wife discovered that they were unable to have children, after much prayer, they decided to adopt four, special-needs children: two from Korea, one from Vietnam, and one from Guatemala.

As a consequence of his growing family, after considerable prayer and soul-searching, Tim made what many considered an unbelievable decision. He decided to walk away from his baseball career. You see, he had discovered that the travel involved in professional baseball significantly hampered his ability to fulfill his roles as husband and father.

When he left the stadium for the last time, reporters asked why he was retiring. “Baseball is going to do just fine without me,” he said. “It’s not going to miss a beat. But I’m the only father my children have. I’m the only husband my wife has. And they need me a lot more than baseball does.”

Tim Burke’s decision had eternal consequences. He chose to honor His God-given responsibilities and forsake a career that offered wealth and fame, but at the expense of his family. Burke is thus a powerful role model for today’s conflicted world.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Needed: A Spiritual Stimulus Package

For months we have heard the call for a strong economic stimulus package to “get our economy moving again.” A proposal to supposedly do just that is making its way through Congress. Partisan debate is questioning or praising the merits of this legislation, as government efforts so far have clearly been ineffective.

We are being bombarded with reports that the present economic malaise is unprecedented, at least since the Great Depression. Unemployment is worsening every week, it seems, as big-name corporations, and the business down the street, reduce their payrolls to deal with the recession and declining worldwide demand.

These tumultuous economic times should drive individuals, and the nation, to recognize that there are issues in life of greater consequence than the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Gross National Product.

How serious are we about repenting of our sin before God? Do we regard the worship of God of greater importance than watching the Super Bowl? Do we take seriously God’s directives in Scripture concerning marriage, family, the Sabbath, and preparing for eternity?

The Bible declares, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” America is in trouble because we serve many gods. The present economic crisis is a symptom of a deeper, spiritual crisis. The ultimate answer will not be found in job creation and tax cuts but in humility and repentance.

Americans’ greatest need is for a paradigm shift produced by spiritual conversion. Rather than serving the god of economic prosperity our chief purpose should be to glorify our Creator. The deficit of greatest consequence these days is not government overspending but the lack of spiritual vitality. With the right God in focus, the economy will take care of itself.

When our churches are full of people seeking the Lord Jesus Christ we will have turned a corner. Until then, we can expect the consequences of the spirituality deficit to compound. Stimulating the soul of America is our greatest need.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A La Carte Faith

A survey of Americans conducted in August of last year by The Barna Group points to an alarming trend. The survey found that, by an overwhelming margin, 74% to 23%, adults agreed that their faith was becoming more important than it used to be as a source for reliable moral guidance. That’s the good news.

The same survey revealed, more ominously, that feelings, emotions, and self-reflection—rather than an information-based exercise like studying the Bible increasingly determine people’s faith. Americans are thus using an a la carte approach that threatens the integrity of the Christian faith.

Americans have always prided themselves on their independent spirits. This perspective is now influencing the nature of their faith. People are, in effect, becoming their own “theologians-in-residence.” Their likes, dislikes, and personal proclivities are the standards by which the content of their faith is determined.

The effect of this trend is often a hodgepodge of contradictory and inconsistent beliefs, drawn from a variety of religious sources, both from historic Christianity as well as other world religions.

If one were dealing with diet and cooking styles, perhaps there would be merit in such an approach. But with the welfare of one’s eternal soul hanging in the balance, truth must trump personal preference. The authority of God the Creator’s revelation, consistently interpreted and applied, must be the standard by which faith is judged.

Faith alone does not save. It is the content of faith that is critical to its efficacy. If you pray to the moon for forgiveness of sin and eternal life, such faith will only lead to despair. Despite the freewheeling nature of religious life in the 21st century, discerning individuals will look to the authority of Scripture, to the faith tried and tested by the historic Christian church for two millenniums. The Creator who revealed Himself in the Bible has guided His followers to discover and protect the truth that leads to eternal life.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Anxious About 2009?

My dictionary defines anxiety as “the state of being uneasy, apprehensive, or worried about what may happen; concern about a possible future event.” Perhaps that summarizes your attitude toward 2009.

Numerous Americans have expressed their delight that 2008, with all of its trauma and economic chaos, is now history. The advent of a new year inclines many to hope that things will get better. For some, the election of a new President portends positive change; for others, the Obama victory is cause for alarm.

Politics aside, we all understand that there is the potential for greater chaos. Some observers predict total economic collapse. We have been warned that another terrorist strike is not unlikely, as a means of testing the meddle of the new administration. The looming threat of an EMP attack is considered by strategic experts to be a likely means by which our enemies may try to bring America to her knees. Such a threat involves the relatively low-tech procedure of exploding a nuclear device in the atmosphere, thereby disabling the nation’s electronic grid and the computer-controlled systems that keep the infrastructure functioning. Thereafter, long-term chaos would ensue.

In reality, there is no end of things to worry about. But for one who takes the Bible seriously, there is a better way. At least thirteen times in the New Testament we are instructed to trust the Lord in all circumstances, rather than give in to anxiety or fear. A person is overwhelmed by worry when he distrusts God or is unwilling to be content with His providence. Either response is sinful because it dishonors God and His character.

Prudence certainly demands taking precautions to deal with potential adversities. Meanwhile, our souls should be filled with a peace that comes from an implicit trust in God’s control. The Bible urges us, “Be anxious for nothing.” Instead, “[Cast] all your anxieties on Him, for He cares for you.”