08 Jan

Don’t Ever Stop Clapping for the LGBTQ Community

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian author and critic of Soviet totalitarianism.  He had great reason to be a detractor given his years of imprisonment in Soviet gulags and forced work camps after being charged with writing anti-Soviet propaganda during Stalin’s reign.  Later in life, Solzhenitsyn captured what it was like to live in those times in a book called The Gulag Archipelago.  Those were very dangerous days when anybody at any time could be arrested and sentenced or murdered for basically nothing.  Here’s one haunting story from his book :

A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with “stormy applause, rising to an ovation.” For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the “stormy applause, rising to an ovation” continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would dare be the first to stop? The secretary of the District Party Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he who had just called for the ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who’d been arrested. He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly—but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them? The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter. . . . Then after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him: “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding!”

What haunting words!  “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding!”  Arrested simply for being the first to stop applauding.  What insanity!

Yet, in that story, I see a reflection of America in 2015.  We now find ourselves in an increasingly oppressive situation being foisted upon us by the sexual radicals in our midst.  No one can deny that the homosexual movement in America has been gaining power.  They have organized and fought very hard to bring about social tolerance for the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning lifestyle.  They have been very successful.

However, it’s becoming clear that tolerance is not their end game.  The sexual radicals, it seems, will not stop until society celebrates their lifestyle.  Toleration is not enough.  We must say, they seem to be telling us, that what they are doing is good and righteous.  We must smile approvingly and march with them because those who are not with them are against them.  We must stand and clap for the LGBTQ community and never stop.  Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding the LGBTQ community!

Case in point is the recent termination of Altanta’s Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.  This exemplary African American man had served the fire department with honor for nearly four decades.  Being a firefighter had been his dream since the age of 5, and he had worked his way up the ranks until he was hired as the Fire Chief of Atlanta in 2008.  He served there until 2009 when he joined President Obama’s office as U.S. Fire Administrator.  He did a fine job in that post as well, but in 2010, he returned to Atlanta where he was unanimously given his fire chief job back.

Everything was great until the homosexual movement got wind in 2014 that Chief Cochran had dared to state in a book he had written that homosexuality is immoral.  The entire book wasn’t against homosexuality.  Not even a full page out the 160-page book covered the topic of homosexuality.  In fact, his references to homosexuality might cover a half page.  But, it was way more than enough to put the Homosexual NKVD into action.

What exactly did he say?  In one spot, Cochram stated, “Uncleanness – whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, all other forms of sexual perversion.”  In another section, he wrote, “Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, the same sex, and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body – temple and dishonor God.”  Cochran didn’t refuse to put out a fire at a homosexual’s home.  He didn’t terminate a gay fireman because of his gayness.  He didn’t stand in a staff meeting and berate the lesbians in Atlanta.  In fact, the mayor’s investigation found no evidence of discrimination from Cochran toward any member of the LGBTQ community or an LGBTQ member of Atlanta Fire and Rescue.  He, in essence, merely stopped clapping for them.

And the Homosexual NKVD were watching.  They always do, especially over public officials.  They quickly sprung into action, demanding that the chief be terminated.  Nothing else would satisfy them.  They demand tolerance for themselves but refuse to extend it to anybody else.  Anything less than celebration and approval must be punished.  They mayor promptly put the chief on a 30-day suspension WITHOUT pay and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training.  I’m sure the mayor would have preferred a gulag, but the budget is just too tight here lately for that sort of facility.  A reeducation class would have to suffice.  At the end of those 30 days when Cochran was supposed to return to work, the mayor announced the chief’s termination.  According to the mayor, to simply believe that somebody is acting immorally is to discriminate against them.  The Ministry of the New Morality has spoken.

The revolution is almost complete.  If you know what’s good for you, comrade, you’ll keep on clapping.  Don’t ever be the first to stop!  Welcome to the new homosexual totalitarianism!

01 Nov

How to Vote on November 6

We are only five days away from the 2012 presidential election, and I’m here today to tell you how to vote.  I know that voting for the leader of the greatest nation on Earth is always a big deal, but for some reason, it feels especially big this time around.  So, how should you vote on Tuesday?

Please notice closely that I didn’t say that I was going to tell you whom to vote for.  That’s not my public calling (email me privately if you want that conversation!).  Rather, I’m going to tell you HOW to vote.

This election will mark my fourth opportunity to vote for my potential president.  I know, I’m a newbie to some of you who remember D-Day, but over these four election cycles, I’ve increasingly given more thought to what I’m actually doing when I enter that booth.  I’ve not arrived yet, but I’ve come to understand what I believe are some important principles as a follower of Jesus Christ that are helpful for me.  I pray they’ll be helpful to you as well.

1.  Vote with a Bible in your hand.
For the Christian, there is no other authority than the Bible.  FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC are not your authority.  A political party is not your authority.  An ethnicity is not your authority.  Leave all of these other authorities for the world, pick up your Bible, and ask, “What does the Lord say?”  You certainly will not find direct teaching on whom to vote for there, but you’ll find principles which will be your guide.  Don’t leave the Bible at the door.  Put it in your heart and mind, and then carry that into the booth with you!

2.  Vote with an informed mind.
The quality of a democracy is incumbent upon an electorate that knows the issues.  Too many people vote upon perception, feelings, and tradition.  That’s lazy democracy!  That’s being asleep at the wheel!  Wake up and get informed!

Recently I’ve been in a series of serious political conversations with a person who thought he was a certain party and was planning to vote for that party’s candidate.  Not only had he traditionally voted for that party, but he also didn’t like personal aspects of the candidate from the other party.  I explained to him that those are poor reasons and then challenged him to simply take an issues quiz to see which candidate he most agreed with.  He decided to give it a try, and we went to http://www.isidewith.com.  After taking the quiz, he found out that on issues, he agreed with 90% of the candidate that he didn’t like from the other party!  I encourage every one of you to go take that quiz and see whom you should vote for based upon issues because it’s issues that matter most!

3.  Vote with the understanding that human government is never the savior.
It’s easy for us to get caught up in the belief that if we can just get the right person elected, we’ll have heaven on earth.  Everything will be fine.  It’s gotten to the point that one of this year’s candidates has been both affectionately and derisively called “the Messiah,” but, that’s all poppycock!  We must keep in mind that we are electing fallen men who will govern a fallen people in a fallen world.  Never will there be heaven on earth until Jesus returns.

In fact, as you go to the voting booth, I pray it’ll be a stark reminder that your perfect King has not returned yet to set up His eternal kingdom here on earth.  As you cast your ballot, say, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

4.  Vote knowing that no matter who wins, it is God who puts people into authority.
The Scripture clearly says that God works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11), which includes free democratic elections.  Romans 13:1 tells us that governing authorities are established by God.  Therefore, I believe the Bible teaches that all world leaders and authorities come to power by the providence of God for the purposes of God.  Certainly, there are world leaders living and dead that we would not put into power, but we always have to keep in mind that God’s ways are not our ways.  He works all things after the counsel of His will and always does what is wisest, most loving, most just, and most glorifying.  In faith, we must trust that God is working thus.

As I said earlier, this is my fourth presidential election cycle.  I’ve been voting for presidents since 2000 when it was Bush the younger v/s Gore, and in that time, I’ve voted for two candidate who didn’t win.  I thought, “God, what’s going on?!”  But, as I’ve matured, I’ve learned to pray, “Father, I don’t know why my candidate lost, but I’m going to trust You.”  I hope that’ll be your prayer as well if your candidate is beaten.

5.  Vote in a way that best fulfills Jesus’ commandment to be the salt and light of the earth.
Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 5:13-16:

  • You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Salt, I believe, is pointing us to preserve the righteousness of God on earth, and I believe light is telling us to spread truth.  In other words, we should vote in a way that will uphold God’s righteousness and truth.  Therefore, for the Christian, moral issues should be the most important issues in deciding whom to vote for—issues such as life, liberty, marriage, and finances.  These are issues of righteousness that God has called us to stand for.  Therefore, we must ask, “On these issues, which candidate stands more for what pleases God?”

For instance, on the moral issue of marriage, President Obama supports gay marriage while Governor Romney opposes gay marriage.  On the moral issue of abortion, President Obama supports taxpayer funded abortions while Governor Romney opposes it.  For a more complete list, check out the Family Research Council’s 2012 Values Voter Presidential Voter Guide.  Which candidate better promotes God’s values?

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In less than a week, it’ll all be over, and the next president will have been elected.  By all means, vote, but keep in mind that how you vote matters to God also.  If you’re in Chicago, you’ll be tempted to vote early and vote often, but I pray you’ll withstand the temptation.  Above all, if you are a Christian, vote as a Christian whose life is given to the glory of God, and may the majority win!

12 Sep

Can Christians Vote for a Mormon?

Are you struggling with whom you are going to vote for in November?  Are you being tempted to simply just stay home and not vote because you can’t vote for the incumbent, and you can’t bring yourself to cast a ballot for a Mormon?

Yesterday, Baptist Press ran an excellent article summarizing the crucial conversation held at yesterday morning’s chapel at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The panel was called The Mormon Moment?: Religious Conviction and the 2012 Election, and the article on it from Baptist Press was called “Panel asks: Can Christians vote for a Mormon?”  The actual panel from SBTS is below for you to watch.  Please watch it!  I’ve also included the entirety of the Baptist Press article below in italics.  Please, please read it!!  If you only have time for the video or the article, read the article.

 

“Panel asks: Can Christians vote for a Mormon?”

–Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, with reporting by Craig Sanders of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.–

Addressing an issue on the minds of many evangelical voters as a Mormon runs for president, a Baptist seminary panel said Tuesday that evangelicals must jettison — for the good of their faith — the idea that the White House occupant must be a “religious mascot” for Christianity.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted the panel discussion, less than two months before American voters will choose between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who is Mormon.

“We are going to have to give up — on both sides — the idea of president as religious mascot.”
–Russell Moore

“I heard someone in recent days say, ‘I would never vote for anyone who is not an authentically professing evangelical Christian,'” said Russell D. Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary. “Well, if that’s the case, then as far as I can see, you have about three candidates in the last 100 years or so … that you could possibly vote for: William Jennings Bryan, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.

“The question is not John 3:16 in terms of reading the regeneration of the person’s heart,” Moore said. “The question is Romans 13: Does this person have the kind of wisdom to bear the sword on behalf of God’s authority that He has granted to the state? And can I trust that person to protect society? That’s the fundamental question.”

American Christians too often, said seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr., have seemingly assigned a “priestly role” to the White House, hoping the president will represent and promote the Christian faith. But that is a uniquely American idea, Mohler said, and unhealthy for Christianity.

“I had a pastor say to me, ‘You just can’t be faithful and vote for someone who represents such things or believes such things [as Mormons believe],'” Mohler said. “And I said, ‘What if you’re a Christian in Utah? Do you just not vote? What if your decision is between two Mormon candidates?’

“Throughout most of Christian history, folks haven’t struggled with this question because they didn’t have the luxury of struggling with it. … The separation of the priestly role from government is something that has to happen in the minds of American evangelicals,” Mohler said, warning against viewing government as an idol.

Moore agreed, saying U.S. Christians have been guilty of trying to Christianize American history.

“So many evangelicals want to go back and claim Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and John Adams as orthodox, evangelical Christians,” Moore said. “The problem with that [is that] Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were great men who did fantastic things for our country, but once you start claiming them as orthodox evangelical Christians, you’re not elevating those men, you’re downgrading the Gospel into something that fits whatever they happen to hold. And you wind up with [modern-day] politicians who learn the language of evangelical faith in order to use it, in order to manipulate people into supporting them.”

The four-member panel said Americans on multiple occasions have elected candidates who did not hold to evangelical beliefs. Among them were Unitarian William Howard Taft and Catholic John F. Kennedy.

“We went through this back in the ’60s with John Kennedy,” said Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Seminary. “They thought, ‘Oh, if we elect a Catholic, then the Pope will just have a hotline and tell him exactly what to do.'”

The panel, though, said evangelicals still face tough questions about potentially electing a Mormon for president — mainly whether a Mormon president would boost the image of Mormonism around the world.

“How do we think of that in terms of world missions?” Mohler asked. “How do we think about this in terms of missions on Third Avenue in Louisville, Ky.?”

Greg Gilbert, pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., said it’s a “difficult question.” Mormonism clearly isn’t part of orthodox, historical Christianity, panelists said.

“It may not be a kind of atomic moment where the whole nation wakes up and thinks, ‘Oh, I like Mitt Romney’s tax policies; I’m going to take a look at the Mormon church,'” Gilbert said. “I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen.”

Instead, Gilbert said, a Romney president would give Mormonism more “respectability.” In that scenario, Gilbert said, it would become “increasingly important” for Christians “to clarify” the differences between orthodox, historical Christianity and Mormonism.

Mohler said he hopes Christian voters will think with deep theological concern and receive guidance from their pastors to help them make sound decisions.

Said Gilbert, “This is an educational moment for evangelicals, and it could turn out to be a healthy thing for the church if they can learn to think more carefully about how to agree with a person’s policies while disagreeing with his theological beliefs.”

Moore said the Bible includes multiple stories of how God uses non-believers for His good. Among them is Persian King Cyrus, who allowed the Jews to return to Israel following their captivity.

The question Christians should ask, Moore said, is: “Between these two people — President Obama and Gov. Romney — who is going to do the best for the common good and in protecting the United States of America and all the other questions that we’ve got to keep in mind.”

Moore added, “We are going to have to give up — on both sides — the idea of president as religious mascot.”

An Obama-Romney campaign, Moore said, is a “good thing for American evangelicals.”

“It enables us to simultaneously honor the king,” he said, alluding to 1 Peter 2:17, “and to boldly proclaim the Gospel — in a way that we see happening all through the Book of Acts. We are able to love and pray for President Obama while we disagree with him on life and religious liberty and marriage and some really important things. …

“And if a President Romney is elected, we’re the people who ought to be able to say, ‘We respect and honor this man as president. We’re able to … serve with this man as president, and we’re the people who are willing to — if we’re invited into the Oval Office — say, ‘President Romney, here’s where we agree with you; here’s what we like about what you’re doing. And we sincerely want to plead with you to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Closing out the discussion, Mohler reminded attendees: “Above all we have a Gospel responsibility, that we are first and foremost citizens of the heavenly Kingdom and our concern is that others will become a part of the Kingdom through the proclamation of the Gospel.”

To read the article at the Baptist Press site, click here.

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I’m really interested in what you think about this whole thing.  Please feel free to log a comment below so that others may be helped in how you are thinking this through in your mind.  May you vote and vote well!