Would Jesus Stand or Kneel?

Pick a side.

It has to be one or the other.

That’s what we’re always told. It has to be Coke or Pepsi, Ford or Chevy, Republican or Democrat, stand or kneel. There are no other options. To choose a third option is to condone the most evil of the only two real choices. And we call this freedom.

Even Jesus was told to pick a side. He had the wonderful privilege of choosing between the lifeless Saducees and the graceless Pharisees. He had the wisdom to denounce both groups. He rejected the Pharisees with his welcoming call to, “all who are weary and heavy laden.” He rejected the Saducees with his resurrection from the grave. Neither party, in their purest form, exists today.

Jesus is doing just fine.

We made it through the first two weeks of the NFL season without much controversy over people kneeling during the national anthem. Sure, some were still doing it and ESPN was still reporting on it but it was rapidly becoming a non-issue.

And then the President of the United States decided to share his opinion. The one who so many evangelical leaders have told us is, “God’s chosen man” called NFL players a name that I will not repeat here because of their refusal to stand during the national anthem. He did not, by the way, use such strong language toward the tiki torch mob in Charlottesville. Some of those were good people, remember? And then, the man who has told us that he has never needed to ask for forgiveness, lashed out at an outspoken Christian for refusing to visit the White House with his NBA championship team.

And, just like that, guess what dominated NFL coverage on Sunday. Can we just watch a game without the government getting involved? The president’s answer over the weekend was a resounding “No.”

For reasons that I’ll likely never understand, some Christians are okay with the president, “telling it like it is” and cursing people who take a knee during the national anthem. The same group that stages silly protests against the IRS on Pulpit Freedom Sunday has no problem with that same government condemning protestors who land on a different end of the political spectrum than they do. The same group that rightly has a problem with President Obama’s tyrannical reach into the consciences of bakers has no problem whatsoever with President Trump’s tyrannical reach into the consciences of professional athletes.

I do not agree with kneeling during the anthem. I always stand and take my hat off and I teach my sons how and why they should do the same. I also teach them that those who refuse to stand have a right to do so and, whether we end up agreeing with them or not, if we’re ever going to get over our divisions, we would do well to listen to them rather than obey the marching orders handed down to us by the president and his talk radio spokespeople.

Jesus did not die for us so that we could pick a side in some ridiculous culture war. He rules over such things and his followers represent him best when they are motivated by the command to love God and love neighbor rather than the desire to tell it like it is and stick it to the folks on the other side.

It can be so much fun to tell it like it is and stick it to the folks on the other side.

It’s just too bad that so few people, including the president, see how it is destroying the fabric of our nation and the credibility of the Christian witness.

The voices on both sides are loud.

Coke or Pepsi.

Ford or Chevy.

Republican or Democrat.

Stand or kneel.

Yet over all of them there is the still small voice that spoke creation into existence, sent Satan away in the wilderness, calmed the winds and the waves and will one day strike down the nations and rule them with an iron rod.

We would be wise to listen to that voice.

Because one day soon there will be no Coke or Pepsi, Ford or Chevy, Republicans or Democrats, and standing or kneeling during the national anthem.

There will still be Jesus however and he’ll still be doing just fine.

 

So you do have a choice.

But there are more than two options.

Choose wisely.

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Benevolent Dictators, The Gospel And Georgia’s Burqa Ban

Update: Jason Spencer has decided to withdraw House Bill 3.

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You might have a hard time believing this but there’s a really bad bill scheduled to come before the Georgia Legislature. This one has nothing to do with raising taxes or making grits the official breakfast food of Georgia. House Bill 3, if passed as written, would prohibit the wearing of any device that would hide a person’s face while taking a photo for a driver’s license, driving a car or, get this, while on, “any public way or public property.” 

To be clear, the bill’s sponsor, Jason Spencer, isn’t trying to crack down on young suburbanite women at the Mall of Georgia who wear their scarfs too high up on their face. This is a ban on burqas.

I can understand the problems of a concealed face during a driver’s license photo but using the power of the sate to prohibit the wearing of a burqa while driving a car or “on public property” is very problematic.

It matters how Christians respond to this.

We must be firm in our theological disagreement with our fellow Americans who are Muslims. No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) and it is clear that the God of Christianity and the god of Islam are not the same. However, we must be just as firm in defending the rights of our Muslim neighbors. Believe it or not, this can be done without compromising the faith.

There’s something very troubling about so-called conservative evangelicals. As I’ve always understood it, conservatism referred to limited government. Recent history reveals that conservatism really means government that’s just as big as the kind that progressives prefer, only with conservatives instead of liberals reaching into our lives. Simply put, many conservatives have abandoned the concept of liberty in favor of a benevolent dictatorship.

And make no mistake, a government that can tell people what they can and cannot wear on “public property” is a dictatorship. I guess it depends on who you ask as to whether or not it’s benevolent. And a government that can tell Muslim women that they have to put their faith in the backseat while driving or in the public square can just as easily tell Christian families that they can’t homeschool their children and tell Christian churches that they can’t refuse someone for baptism or membership.

This bill is rooted in fear. Spencer reasons, “This bill is simply a response to constituents that do have concerns of the rise of Islamic terrorism, and we in the State of Georgia do not want our laws used against us.”

But we must remember that fear is the enemy of liberty. When we allow ourselves to be ruled by fear, we can be sure that there will be scores of benevolent dictators eager to fix the problem. And we can be just as sure that the fix will be worse than the problem.

A while back I was driving my family to a soccer tournament that my son would be playing in. It was a trip like most others but this time we had an extra passenger. My son’s teammate came along for the ride because his parents had to work. My son’s teammate was Muslim.

Now, we could have performed our own stop and frisk on this young boy before letting him into our car. We wouldn’t want him setting off a bomb in the back seat of our Camry, now would we? Call me a bad parent, but we didn’t screen this young man. And somehow, no bomb went off.

But something else happened.

For the entire hour of our drive, I played the music of Lecrae. He’s a rapper who frequently references the gospel. And while Lecrae’s music was playing, I was praying. I was praying that the light of Christ would shine through our family as we interacted with one another and through Lecrae’s lyrics as they blew through our speakers.

When we got to the soccer fields, my son’s friend didn’t get out of the car and pray to make Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior. He did something very different from that.

He threw up.

Now, I don’t know what that has to say about me and my family but I think that it was an answer to prayer. While I was cleaning up vomit, my wife was comforting this young Muslim boy as if he was her own. The light of Christ shone through her that afternoon. And I’m still praying that it penetrates the heart of that young man.

Muslim’s suffer. Sometimes their suffering comes from being car sick. Sometimes it comes from ridiculous laws. Either way, it is the job of followers of Christ to be there for them, with love and truth, when that suffering comes.

It’s the sacrificial love and truth of God and his people that removes burqas.

Not ridiculous laws from benevolent dictators.

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Teachers, Never Stop Displaying Christ!

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Recently, I was informed of a new directive from a local school district. It had nothing to do  with how much homework teachers can give. It focused more on what teachers can hang on the walls of their classrooms. Or wear around their necks. Or have written under their name on the e-mails they send out.

Teachers in this particular school district, right smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt, are being told that they are no longer allowed to display crosses, prayers, Bible verses or even angels in a place where others might see them. But, on the bright side, teachers are allowed to keep a religious symbol in their desk or filing cabinet as long as no one else sees it. Gee, thanks, government!

Yet again, those in power wishing to suppress the free exercise of religion have gotten it all wrong, at least in regards to Christianity. Yes, Christians sometimes hang crosses on our walls. Some of us put angels atop our Christmas trees. We even decorate our homes with Bible verses. But the heart of our faith runs deeper than that. Our faith is one of devotion, not decoration.

So what should you do if you’re a Christian teacher who has committed the terrible crime of displaying the Lord’s Prayer in your classroom? Is it somehow a compromise of your faith if you obey your power-hungry overseers and take the cross off of your wall and put it in your drawer?

The answer to that question rests in the other place where you choose to display your Bible passages. You see, the government can tell you to take your favorite Bible verse down off of their wall. But they can’t make you take it down from your heart.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (ESV) 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for Christians to keep their faith private. A faith that is always kept private is a dead faith (James 2:14-26). I’m arguing for quite the opposite, really.

When you became a Christian, the Holy Spirit took up residence within you. And, more than simply receiving a Get Out of Hell Free Card, you were given the power to live in obedience to the commands of Christ. Paul calls it the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

While some of your colleagues may simply be drawing a paycheck and counting down the days until Christmas break, you have an opportunity here. You know that kid that all of the other teachers hate? Love him with the radical love of Christ. When racial tensions spill out into the cafeteria, be an agent of peace for the glory of Christ and the good of those under your care. While the state’s curriculum focuses on teaching kids how to put condoms on bananas and calling it health, teach them instead what is good. Teach them self-control. Model gentleness. And do it with patience and faithfulness.

To put it another way, the state can use its power to make you take a religious display off of your wall but there is nothing they can do to keep you from displaying the real, risen Jesus through your life. Do your job with excellence for the glory of Jesus Christ. And if one of your bosses tells you to stop doing that, remember who your real boss is. And if it costs you your retirement, remember the real inheritance that awaits you.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Here’s something you can count on. At some point, tragedy will strike your school. I wish it wasn’t that way but it is. It might be an automobile accident or a national catastrophe. It may lead to an empty desk in your classroom or few unplanned days out of school. Either way, tragedy will come. Count on it.

And when it does, the same state that told you to take down your cross will send in their grief counselors to counsel kids and their families. But their thoughts and godless prayers won’t be able to help. Anyone who has abandoned the truth of the gospel ultimately has no hope to offer to those in need. But that doesn’t take away the pain of those in need. So guess where those hurting hearts are going to turn?

You.

The teacher who was forced to take the cross down from your wall but who absolutely refused to remove its impact from your heart and your words and your actions.

Anyone can put a cross on a wall. But only a truly devoted follower of Jesus Christ lives with that cross at the center of everything. As you do that, something is happening.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)

That light shining through you is not your award-winning personality or superior teaching abilities. Let’s face it, we all have our days. No, the light is Jesus himself.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)

Remember, they can take the display of Jesus off of your wall but they can’t take him out of you.

In what sound like something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984, the school district is telling teachers and other employees to inspect properties in case any religious symbols got overlooked during the initial cleansing. And then there is the reminder that these properties are under the ownership and control of the government.

That may be true of the walls in your classroom but it is not true of you. You are under the ownership and control of Christ. So let the government inspect you all they want to. Just so long as when they do, they find Christ.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:27-29 (ESV)

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Why Stand For The National Anthem?

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I can relate to Colin Kaepernick. Not because of the color of my skin. Not because I wear socks ridiculing the police or shirts sporting dictators like he does. I can relate to Colin Kaepernick because there are things in this country that I don’t like.

I don’t like that the murder of babies is a multi-million dollar, government funded industry in our country.

I don’t like the fact that we have lost anything resembling a moral compass.

I don’t like the division.

I don’t like the slow decline of religious liberty.

But, when the national anthem comes on, I stand up. And I make sure that my two sons do as well. Heres why.

I stand up because of Leman Sanders. He dodged bullets and caught malaria in the South Pacific during World War II.

I stand up because of Wynsol Smith. He’s still carrying wounds from time spent serving his country.

I stand up because of Marcel Tayamen. His family left the Philippines for the United States long before anyone had ever heard of Colin Kaepernick. He served his country in the Air Force during Vietnam and carried on with that service long after the war was over.

To me, even in a world of aborted babies and leaking religious liberty, taking a knee during the national anthem would seem like spitting in the face of Leman Sanders, Wynsol Smith, Marcel Tayamen and countless others who served their country.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

I support Colin Kaepernick’s right to take a knee or sit down during the national anthem. We lose something very valuable in the country if we lose the right to peaceful protest, even if we don’t happen to agree with the protesters. The problem is that now, taking a knee has become all the rage.

I’m sure that there will be high school and college players doing just that during the national anthem as the season wears on.

U.S. Women’s Soccer player, Megan Rapinoe has refused to stand when the national anthem is played before her games. She’s doing it to raise awareness for LGBT rights. Forgive me for my ignorance here but I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what rights the LGBT community are missing out on. The right to shut down even more bakeries?

And now the Seattle Seahawks have announced that the entire team will sit out the national anthem for their opening game of the season. That opening game of the season just happens to be on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. They’re calling it a “big surprise.”

Remember, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

We’ve lost something. In an effort to have our voices heard, we’ve forgotten to go through the trouble of actually examining what it is our voices are saying. It’s like everyone wants to be Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat but no one wants to be the Rosa Parks who spent the rest of her life living in humility and on principle.

The government should not make Kaepernick, Rapinoe or the Seahawks stand during the national anthem. The employers of those athletes should. Their employers should remind them of people like Leman Sanders, Wynsol Smith and Marcel Tayamen. Brave men who served, even though they probably didn’t agree with everything their country was doing. Their employers should remind them of the little eyes who are watching them and who are likely to imitate their protest.

And their employers should remind them that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

A short while back my sons were getting ready to watch a soccer game on television. I was in and out of the room but I could hear what they were hearing. It was the national anthem. I couldn’t, however, believe what I was seeing.

They had gotten up off of the couch where they would be camped out for the next 90 minutes and stood with hands over their chests, just as if the singer of the national anthem were in our living room. It was a proud dad moment.

While they were standing, I didn’t see two sheep, mindlessly following the masses.

And I didn’t see all that was wrong with our country.

For that short moment, I saw two little boys who stood, not because they were made to but because they felt that it was the right thing to do.

Maybe, in spite of all of our differences, our country can get back to that point.

Maybe.

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About That Mosque In Rural Georgia

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There’s a big fight going on in my part of the world. Some people want to build a mosque in rural Newton County, Georgia. Most of the people in Newton County, Georgia don’t want the building there. At least that’s how it seems. At first, those in opposition cited traffic concerns but at a recent public meeting, the real reason became apparent. The people of Newton County don’t want a Muslim place of worship in their community.

The will of the people is understandable here. After all, Islam hasn’t done the best job of separating itself from bloodthirsty lunatics. On the surface at least, one can understand why the people of Newton County wouldn’t want a Muslim place of worship in their community.

But that’s just on the surface. A second look reveals that allowing the government to decide which religion can or cannot put up a building is a very slippery slope. Beyond the rhetoric, fear and tribalism there is the following reality: when one religion is banned by the government, no religion is safe.

Islam is a lie. More than that, it is a demonic lie. Millions have been and continue to be deceived by it. I would love to see the religion wiped off of the map. But I don’t want that to happen because of a local government with a new ordinance or a federal government wishing to make “the sand glow.” I’d rather see Islam choked out by the gospel of Jesus Christ, the One True God. One day it will be.

There are a lot of houses of worship in my community. The one closest to my house teaches the false doctrine that Jesus was created. Many others, with more socially acceptable titles on the sign out front, haven’t preached the gospel in decades. If Jesus showed up this Sunday, they’d form a committee and have him voted out. There are other churches where the gospel of salvation by good works and the promise of health and wealth are boldly proclaimed. For them, the God of the universe is the means to the end of their best life now.

I pray for these churches and houses of worship. For some, I pray that they would shut down because everyone there comes to realize the lies they have believed and the truth of the gospel. For others, I pray for revival and a new start. But what I’m praying for can only be done by God, not the government.

I get it. Most terrorists are Muslims, not Jehovah’s Witnesses. All the people in Newton County want to do, I’m told, is keep terrorism out of their community. They don’t have a beef with any other religions.

Consider this.

I’m the pastor of a Baptist Church. I frequently preach that homosexuality is a sin but that homosexuals are not beyond God’s grace. I believe in male leadership. I am very particular about what wedding ceremonies, even the heterosexual ones, I will perform. I believe that every word of the Bible is God’s true word. There are some instances where I would be forced to tell government officials, “I must obey God rather than man.” And I’m not alone. There are millions like me.

But do you know what all of that makes us in the eyes of our increasingly godless culture?

Terrorists.

Why do you think that peaceful, evangelical church planters have such a hard time finding a building in the northeastern United States? Because the angry mobs see them as intolerant. Or as being on the wrong side of history. Or hateful. Or just plain old terrorists.

The First Amendment of our Constitution does not speak of the freedom of the Baptist religion. Or the Methodist religion. Or a religion that we’re more familiar with and that’s less scary. It speaks of the freedom of religion. Period.

My dad used to tell me that democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Right now in Newton County, the wolf mob is friendly to Christianity. But we would be foolish to believe that it will stay that way. The tide has already turned against us in a significant portion of our country.

So if some group decides to build a mosque in your community, let them do it. The spread of Islam will not come to a stop because of a town hall meeting. But, at least in my part of the world, it can slow down when Christians start viewing Muslims as lost sheep in need of a Savior rather than pests in need of an eviction notice.

Freedom is scary. It comes with risks. There is danger involved. Some people can’t handle living under a government that isn’t big enough to keep them safe in any and every circumstance. As a result, they are left with a very large government that is big enough to protect them from any and every religion.

I hope that the mosque in Newton County gets built.

But, somewhere along the way, I hope that it gets repurposed because the families who worship there come to see the supremacy of Jesus Christ over Allah. That can’t happen through a government ordinance.

Only the Holy Spirit can make it happen. That can be a scary reality.

But when we rely on government to do what only God can, we are left with something even more frightening.

Tyranny.

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Picking The Lesser Of Two Evils Is Wrong And The Church Must Stop Doing It

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Ashley Qualls was murdered in the middle of the night on July 9, 2013. She was walking home from work when a few men on bicycles confronted her. There was an argument. Shots rang out. The men rode away into the night, leaving Ashley’s lifeless body on the street.

The case still has not been solved.

There are many reasons why. Here are two. Cowardice and compromise. Many of the people in that large city who have insight into he murder are simply too scared to say anything about it. They’re afraid that the criminals will come for them next. Others are compromised. They don’t want to talk to the police because they had some involvement, if not with the murder itself at least with the men who committed it. Their own closeted skeletons prevent them from saying anything.

When good people were needed to make a stand against evil, cowardice and compromise kept them from doing the right thing.

Many of today’s Christians have a lot in common with the folks in that city. In the face of evil, they do nothing. They are too scared. Too scared of being labeled a bigot. Too scared of being outnumbered. Others have been compromised. While Jesus told his disciples to pray, “Deliver us from evil,” these Christians are too busy embracing evil or voting for the lesser of two evils to actually make a stand against evil. It’s hard to stand against something that you’ve already embraced.

The world has gone nuts. Our president is acting like a king. Partly due to his actions, little girls are scared to go into public restrooms because of the men who are now encouraged to go in with them. And their parents are scared to do anything to stop them for fear of being labeled discriminatory or a hater.

In the church’s silence, others have risen up to speak. They rant on social media IN ALL CAPS ABOUT HOW MUCH THEY HATE LIBERALS AND HOW THEY’D LIKE TO KILL ANY PERV THAT COMES INTO THE BATHROOM WHILE THEIR DAUGHTER IS IN THERE. They run for president and wear red hats that tell us to make America great again, all the while embracing the very evil their supporters hope they’ll abolish. Both are only making the problems worse.

The last thing we need is more angry political talk. And if you think that either evil presidential candidate is going to offer any legitimate solutions, you are terribly mistaken. One thing history has taught us is that you should never expect godly consequences from godless leaders.

What we could really use is a few people like John the Baptist.

John the Baptist lived under a tyrannical ruler the Bible calls Herod. When Herod stole his brother’s wife and made her his own, John had the audacity to speak against it.

If this were happening today, imagine what John’s friends would tell him.

“John, settle down. This Herod isn’t as evil as the other Herod.”

“John, just stick to the Bible. Preachers aren’t supposed to talk about anything else.”

If anyone said that to John, it’s obvious that he didn’t listen. He spoke to Herod. And he was blunt. “It is not lawful for you to have her” (Matthew 14:4).

For his efforts, John was thrown in prison by the tyrannical Herod. But John wasn’t like today’s loudmouth real estate mogul or ALL CAPS FACEBOOK WARRIOR. Sure, he stood up for the truth but he did so in a loving way. We know this because while John was in prison, Herod enjoyed visiting him to listen to what he had to say (Mark 6:20). Herod didn’t like being called out but he liked the one who called him out. John’s loving boldness earned him a platform before the evil ruler.

But all of that changed.

Herod was tricked into making the decision to remove John’s head from John’s body.

That’s the part where a lot of Christians misrepresent the story of John the Baptist. They tell us that the point of the passage is that you need to keep your opinions on political or controversial issues to yourself or you could lose your head. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real point of the passage is that it is better to die for God’s glory than to live for your own. As I write this, John the Baptist is doing just fine. Herod is not.

This is an extremely important lesson for the Church today. We have been silent for too long. Or, we have been so loud and obnoxious that we might as well be silent. And when the church is silent, the culture suffers.

Now, perhaps more than at any other moment in my lifetime, we need to quit letting presidential candidates speak for us. We need to speak. And we need to do so in a clear, loving, bold and humble way.

If your kid’s school allows boys to go into your daughter’s restroom or dressing room, confront them on it.

You’ll be surprised at what happens when one person refuses to drink the poison Kool-Aid. So rather than figuring out the lesser of two evils, let’s just get back to what Jesus told us to do. Let’s stand against it. Let’s resist it. Let’s pray for God to deliver us from it.

A while back I got an e-mail regarding the team my son plays on. Parents were being asked to pay a few bucks in order to buy new socks for every kid on the team to wear that month. The pink socks were to raise awareness for breast cancer and the money raised would go toward cancer research. But not just any cancer research. The particular organization receiving these funds supported Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider.

I responded to the e-mail by stating that my family would not be taking part in this fundraiser because we value human life and we are pro-life. I DIDN’T CALL ANYONE NAMES AND I DIDN’T WRITE MY E-MAIL IN ALL CAPS. And I didn’t look for the lesser of two evils. I just resisted the evil.

Not much time passed before the guy in charge of the entire league contacted me. He told me that he wasn’t aware of the abortion link and he asked me for other organizations that fought breast cancer without giving to Planned Parenthood. The league ended up raising hundreds of dollars for breast cancer research. And they raised none for abortion. All because one regular idiot like me decided to stand against evil rather than finding the diet version of evil.

When the church is silent, the culture suffers.

When the church is compromised, the culture worsens.

When the church is courageous, Christ is glorified.

Our courage may cost us our heads. But it’s better to die without them in devotion to Christ than to live with them in slavery to the ever changing whims of the culture.

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A Terribly Offensive Quote From Martin Luther King Jr.

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The original quote on the wall at the University of Oregon was taken down because it used the word men. My guess is that the offended party would rather it said people or womyn or anything other than the generic men.

So the school took it down. But they had a great idea for a replacement. It was a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Unless you like to spend your time wearing white hoods and sheets, you can’t find much to disagree with in these words.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Well, some students at the University of Oregon did.

While the school was remodeling the campus building in which the words of Dr. King reside, some brought up the idea replacing the quote. And no, the members of the offended party did not like to spend their time wearing white hoods and sheets. They were more into rainbow colors.

Some students wondered aloud if the quote accurately represented them today seeing as how Dr. King had the nerve to not mention the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ community in his stirring speech.

In the end, something unusual for a college campus happened. Common sense prevailed. The quote from Dr. King remained. But, according to those in the know, there was quite a battle to keep it there.

This little dust up can teach us a lot. Members of the LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ like to compare their movement to the one that Dr. King led all those years ago. Those who were offended by this quote did us a favor by showing us all just how different these two movements are.

Martin Luther King Jr. wanted his people treated fairly. The perpetually offended sexual progressives want to be treated as masters.

Dr. King taught that character matters. To the sexual progressives, nothing matters more than being treated as normal when acting on your feelings, no matter how bizarre those feelings might be.

Dr. King was willing to go to jail so that his children could live in a just world. The sexual progressives want everyone else to go to jail for not agreeing with them.

The line has to be drawn somewhere. You may be the most tolerant person alive, but at some point you have to say no. A friend was telling me of a conversation with a young student who had no problem with homosexuality. When he asked the student about transgenderism, the response was the same. No problem.

And then he asked the student about men being allowed to use women’s rest rooms.

The student, a female, suddenly had a problem.

What an intolerant, bigot she was.

Or maybe she was just a hypocrite.

Eventually, everything becomes too offensive and all statues and quotes have to be taken down, all books have to be burned and all speech must be policed. This is no way for a free people to live. Free people train themselves to deal with something that they may passionately disagree with but which does not directly harm them.

Dr. King fought so that all people could be judged by the content of their character.

But that’s not enough for today’s sexual progressive. They would rather be judged by their feelings and judge others by their own hurt feelings.

But this shouldn’t surprise us.

Being offended by a quote about character is quite natural for a people with no character.

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You Don’t Really Want Prayer Back In Public Schools

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I grew up thinking that every problem in the country, at least the educational problems, would be solved if the government would just allowing prayer in our schools again. Now that I’ve got a few more gray hairs, I’ve come to realize that I’m not really for “putting prayer back in public schools.”

To be clear, I haven’t gone off the deep end, traded in my Bible for the writings of Gandhi and replaced the preaching time in my church with yoga. I’m firmly committed to Christ, his word and his people.

It’s my faith in how good of a job the government would do at leading and teaching legitimate prayer that is lacking.

At some point long ago, we started believing that in order for our prayers to really work, they need to be said by the principal every morning on the intercom right after reminding everyone that prom fees are due by next week. Before we get what we ask for, let’s take a moment to consider what would happen if prayer were allowed back in public schools.

There are a lot of Christlike teachers, teacher’s aides and principals working in public schools all across this country. But can you be certain that one of them will always be leading your fourth grader in that day’s prayer? Of course not. There is the very real likelihood that your fourth grader will be led by his teacher in a prayer to Lothi the Tree God followed by an interpretive dance to Hillary the God of Womanhood. Are you sure that you want that kind of prayer in school?

A while back I heard a guy talking about the school that his kid goes to. Here’s a quick recap of what he said.

“Man, it’s a great school but they push Jesus too much.”

And here’s the funny part.

His kid goes to a Christian school.

Rule of thumb: if your kid goes to a school with Christian in the name, unless of course that school is Christian Laettner Elementary School, don’t be surprised if he comes home having been taught a Christian worldview. It’s what Christian schools do. Well, at least the good ones. But it doesn’t stop there. If your kid goes to a public school, that is one that is funded and operated by the government, don’t be surprised if she comes home having been taught a secular worldview. You know, how to put condoms on bananas and that sort of thing. No matter the educational setting, it is your job as the Christin parent to use the Bible to either affirm or deny what your children have been taught that day.

If you insist on sending your kid to a public school, teach him to pray. Teach him that prayer doesn’t always have to be out loud. Teach him that God hears the prayers of his people wherever they are. Teach him that some prayers are made without a sound.

But if you prefer to send your kid to a school where teachers and administrators pray to the Father by the help of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus, don’t hold your breath waiting for the government to give that to you. Find a good Christian school.

Putting prayer back in schools is one of those loaded political phrases like, “Hope and Change” or “Make America Great Again” that either has no meaning at all or more meanings than you would like to know. Don’t get me wrong on this. I believe that prayer in school is a good thing. I think that kids are better off starting out the day with their teacher or principal leading them in a legitimate Christian prayer. I think that coaches should be free to pray with their teams. But in a religiously diverse society such as ours, we must remember that in many institutions, prayer would mean nothing more than public statements of whatever faith, or lack thereof, rules the day at that school. At a school in rural Georgia, that could mean praying to God. In Madison, Wisconsin it will likely mean something completely different.

So before we start repeating the talking points about putting prayer back in school, perhaps we should start praying that genuine repentance and renewal would happen in our homes, churches and communities. Without that, your kid would be left with nothing more than diversity day if his school were to start throwing in public prayers every morning.

Prayer never was taken out of public schools. I went to a public school for seven years and prayed frequently. Especially during those moments when the teacher asked everyone to turn in their 12 page paper on the complexities of thermonuclear physics and all I had was a notecard reminding me that some really long paper about something that sounds really hard was due sometime in the distant future. As long as that happens, as long as a girl comes to school after having just watched her family fall apart, as long as classmates die and as long as terror looms, there will always be prayer in school.

No government can stop that.

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Dabo Swinney Versus The Freedom From Religion Foundation

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Dabo Swinney’s team lost on Monday night. It was their first lost of the season and it came in the final game of the season – the national title game.

Swinney has done a fine job of representing his school. He has put Clemson back on the map. They are no longer just contenders for ACC titles but national titles as well. Clemson fans are excited and rightfully so.

But the news isn’t all good for Dabo and Clemson. As if losing on Monday night wasn’t enough, it appears that Clemson will soon be taken to court. And it’s all Dabo’s fault.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation plans to sue Clemson University because their athletics program is a little too Christian. And the man who finds himself in the crosshairs of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is Dabo Swinney. If you are a coach who also happens to follow Christ, when all of your wins and losses are tallied, the fact that the Freedom From Religion Foundation came after you just might be your greatest accomplishment.

Swinney is a very outspoken Christian. And that’s okay with the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Just as long as Coach Swinney resigns from Clemson and starts coaching for the Saint Benny the Lesser Christian Academy Fightin’ Crusaders over in Dump Truck County, South Carolina. To put it another way, if you are a Christian and you get a paycheck from any government institution, leave your faith at the door.

A representative for the Freedom From Religion Foundation said, “We still have concerns about how that program is being conducted.” You’d think that he was talking about Penn State. But no, he’s talking about Clemson and their coach who has the nerve to actually live out what he believes, pray with his players, use chaplains and have church day events. Oh the humanity!

Such activity, as the Freedom From Religion Foundation sees it, is parallel with the President of the United States telling everyone in the country that they had better be at the First Baptist Church this Sunday morning or they can expect a visit from the IRS.

Swinney is clear. Prayer isn’t mandatory. When he leads the team in prayer, objecting players are free to daydream or think about something else. Sort of like the rest of us do whenever someone from the Freedom From Religion Foundation starts lecturing about how they want to protect us all from those evil chaplains that are ruining this country.

You would have a very difficult time finding a profession that impacts young students more than a football coach. No one is denying that. Some of those players come from difficult backgrounds. Others have had it pretty easy. But they all share one thing in common. Hardship. Football is a sport of hardship. Sort of like life.

And when that hardship shows itself, it’s always nice to have someone around who cares. Someone with some answers. Christianity is not just truth. It is centered around the Truth, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). That means that all other truths fall under, not next to, Jesus.

Perhaps, deep down, that’s what is really irritating the Freedom From Religion Foundation. If they had it their way, the next time a defensive lineman got killed in a drunk driving accident three weeks into the season, the coach would keep his mouth shut and bring in a government ordained grief counselor who can comfort those grieving hearts about how life is a series of scientific coincidences and that we are all ruled by chaos as we march our way to nothingness. Survival of the fittest, baby. Dry those tears. Sounds comforting, huh?

No one wants to hear that.

But, regardless of what their beliefs are, kids like to play for coaches who care enough to pray with them and parents like knowing that their sons and daughters are under the influence of coaches who actually live out their faith. That’s why men like Dabo Swinney and Mark Richt are so loved, even by people who don’t own a Bible and haven’t been to church since Easter of 1995.

Dabo Swinney says that his team is open to players of all faiths.

If only the Freedom From Religion Foundation was so inclusive. When it comes to government officials, they are only open to people of no faith. How tolerant of them.

Organizations like this one remind us that atheism and agnosticism are religions of their own. Their savior is self. Their church is the mind. Their sacrament is nothingness. Their pulpit is the courtroom. Their hope goes no further than the grave they will be buried in.

So if it’s freedom from religion that this organization really wants, perhaps they should all begin their crusade by looking in the mirror and just leave Dabo alone.

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Franklin Graham Is Wrong When It Comes To President Obama And Guns

Franklin Graham is wrong.

For the record, I’ve got no problem with Mr. Graham. He does a lot of good for a lot of people. But even good men aren’t immune from being wrong. This time Franklin Graham is wrong when it comes to President Obama and guns.

In a recent Facebook post directed at the president, Graham rightly pointed out that Obama was looking in the wrong place in regards to gun violence. Graham tells us that the human heart, not a gun, is the real culprit behind the violence we are seeing in our nation. I agree with him. If guns are outlawed, people with murder in their hearts will just find something else to do their killing with.

Graham went on to recommend a better remedy to the problem than the president’s Executive Orders, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, Franklin Graham and I are in agreement.

But here’s where we part ways.

“Your proposal will do nothing to stop the violence that is being glorified by Hollywood. Every night the networks, movie channels, and theaters are filled with programming that glamorizes gun violence—guns are used to shoot, to kill, and to splatter human blood all over screens across America. There needs to be legislation to curb this. I would propose starting with a heavy tax on the manufacturers of any film or game that graphically depicts violence. If violent films and games were taken off the shelves, I believe we would see a dramatic drop in gun violence over the next few years.”

If the real problem is the human heart, why should the government ban movies that glorify violence? And if the real remedy is the gospel of Jesus Christ, why are we so quick to run to the government for a supposed cure? Also, how should we define graphic violence and who gets to decide this?

The second amendment matters. It matters a lot. But so does the first amendment. That’s why it’s a bad idea for the federal government to establish a Do Not Cross Line for violence in media and then impose a heavy tax on any who dare to step over. The founders were not interested in protecting popular speech. Their aim was to protect all speech.

For far too long, we have had a love affair with big government. Even conservatives have fallen into this. Everyone, it seems, is a Don’t Tread On Me flag waving Libertarian until they want something from the government. And the government is always eager to step in to offer their help. But there’s usually a catch.

The loss of freedom.

That can show up when you go to the store to buy a gun or when you sit down to watch television. If the government stops you from doing one, the other is sure to follow.

When it comes to violence in media, we have to use a tool that has grown frightfully dusty in many minds. It’s called discernment. There is some violence that needs to be seen. Schindler’s List is violent but when I feel that my kids are old enough, I’m making them watch it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is also violent and I’m never showing that to my kids. But I don’t need any help from the federal government as we walk through that process. I can manage just fine.

Progressives seem to think that all of our problems would be solved if the government would just do something about guns. I just watched quite a few of them applaud Whoopie Goldberg on The View when she suggested banning automatic weapons which, for the record, are not even available to the general public.

Many Conservatives believe that the government needs to do something about violent video games and movies in order to solve our social problems. Over 170 thousand of them clicked the like button on Mr. Graham’s Facebook post.

Both groups are showing their stripes and they look eerily similar. They are the red, white and blue stripes of big government.

We must remember that there will never be a perfect society here in our fallen world. But we can do our best to make it a free society. That can only happen when we hold our government accountable in matters such as balancing the budget and protecting us from enemies foreign and domestic.

But with regards to the movies you watch, the games you play and the guns you shoot, we’re all better off when the government minds its own business.

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