Give thanks — for Coronavirus?

Right now every person who is inclined toward prayer is likely asking God to remove the Coronavirus. It is frightening. It is creating a panic that is, in turn, wreaking havoc on the world economy. But, perhaps, believers in Christ Jesus should be taking another tact in prayer — perhaps we should be thanking God.

Allow me to use another moment in history to explain…

In her autobiography, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom recounts her experiences as the Nazis invaded her home in the Netherlands. She and her family witnessed the abuses the Nazis meted out, especially to the Jewish members of the community. Corrie and her family became a part of the Dutch underground, hiding Jews in their home to prevent them from being shipped off to concentration camps. This, of course, the Nazis deemed “illegal.”

Thid-FleaEventually the Ten Boom family was caught hiding Jews. For this “crime” they were imprisoned. Corrie and her sister, Betsy, eventually found themselves residents of a work camp in Germany. The first thing they noticed, upon walking into their barracks, was the entire place was infested with fleas. They were everywhere.

Betsy prayed. She thanked God for the roof, the walls…

…and the fleas.

Corrie was shocked and asked her sister why she would give thanks for the fleas that tormented them day and night. Betsy’s response came directly from Scripture.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Corrie believed Scripture, and even knew Betsy was right. But, she could not bring herself to give thanks for the fleas.

As time went on they discovered their days were filled with abuse from the Nazi guards. They never had a moment’s peace. Betsy eventually became too ill to continue in the hard labor to which she and Corrie had been assigned. She was reassigned to knit socks for Nazi soldiers. Her new work station was in the barracks. In her new assignment she discovered peace. The Nazi guards left the sock knitters completely alone. In fact, the Nazi guards refused to enter the barracks where the socks were being knit.

SScapThey didn’t want to get fleas.

What a blessing.

I can’t begin to tell you what God is doing with the Coronavirus. But I do know that Scripture tells us…

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” — Romans 8:28

If you are a born-again believer in Christ Jesus you have the assurance that your heavenly Father never abandons you. In fact, sometimes he loves you with affliction. Consider the words of the Psalmist…

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” — Psalm 119:67

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” — Psalm 119:71

“I know, oh LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” — Psalm 119:75

May God use this virus to draw His children near, to shake us from our complacency, to bring many more people into His kingdom, and to get great glory for His name. I have no idea how that will work, but in the meantime we can all thank God for Coronavirus.


Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Note: This post originally ran on December 2, 2013.

There is a trend among some Christians to dismiss Christmas — some even treat Christmas with contempt. This is done for a variety of reasons:

  • December 25 was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church to coincide with a pagan festival.
  • We don’t really know the date of Jesus’ birth, so it is impossible to celebrate it on the actual date.
  • The Christmas tree has its origin in a pagan festival.
  • The Holiday is a celebration of materialism and commercialism.
  • There is no biblical imperative to celebrate or commemorate Christ’s birth.

I get that.

However — if you will allow me to mix a cliché and a pun — let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. More than 100 years ago Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the prince of preachers himself, was well aware of the list of objections cited above. Yet, he did not shy away from celebrating the birth of Christ at this time of year. Why not? I’ll let him speak for himself…

We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas… because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.

Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Savior’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. … It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it. … Probably the fact is that the “holy” days were arranged to fit in with the heathen festivals. We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Savior was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December.

Nevertheless since, the current of men’s thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavoring to lead your thoughts in the same direction.

Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for today. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of His dear Son. — Charles Haddon Spurgeon, from his sermon delivered on December 24, 1871

Christ’s birth is a defining moment in history. The long-promised Messiah has come. The theological implications of this event are unfathomable. This is the fulfillment of numerous prophecies. The virgin birth tells us so much — it is how Jesus was both God and man. It is how He entered into this world uncorrupted by sin. It is the reason He was able to be the perfect sacrifice, the substitute who endured God’s wrath for us. His birth and his death are inseparable, for the Christ child was born to die. And, the fact that it is recorded is Scripture indicates it is something on which we should meditate.

Thid-ChristmasTreeIf the account of Christ’s birth has become corrupted by the efforts of sinful man then take the opportunity of this holiday to help un-corrupt it. Remember, Christmas isn’t the only thing man has ruined. Man has ruined everything. Our sinfulness is the reason the entire world groans under a curse. Left to ourselves we have no ability to fix it and we have no hope.

THIS is why Christ came. He is THE hero in the greatest narrative ever told. And, even though we don’t know exactly when He was born, His birth is worth celebrating every single day of the year…

…even on December 25.

Christmas in the Trenches

Something remarkable happened in December 1914. On a battlefield in France — the “Western Front” of World War I — the armies of Great Britain and France were facing the army of Germany. They had been killing one another for weeks. And yet, one night, as Christmas approached, compassion held sway.

The German soldiers began singing in their trench. To the French and British soldiers across No Man’s Land the words were indistinguishable, but the tune was unmistakeable — Stille Nacht. Silent Night!

The British joined them. Then the French. A unified hymn was raised to the Lord God in three languages.

Then, one by one, the soldiers came out — unarmed.

German soldiers helped French soldiers carry their wounded back to their lines. The English and the French helped the Germans bury and honor their dead. Then, rather than return to their lines and aim their guns again, the soldiers shared chocolate and cigarettes with one another. They played a game of soccer which the Germans won handily. And only after the game did they reveal that several of the players on their side had been teammates back home in Munich on a little club known as Bayern. They shared stories of home. Showed one another photos of their wives, their children. They met one another for the first time, not as nameless, faceless uniforms they’d been ordered to kill, but as people.

This story has been commemorated in a movie entitled Joyeux Noel, and in a song by John McCutcheon entitled, “Christmas in the Trenches”…

There is an interesting aspect to this story — the chain of command from the respective armies had issued standing orders against this sort of thing. It was a court marshal offense. You see, a soldier who “fraternizes with the enemy” who offers “aid and comfort” might discover what these men discovered — your enemies are people, too. The soldiers on all sides were disobeying direct orders, risking courts marshal and even being shot, in order to show compassion to fellow human beings.

Now, let’s take this a step further…

All of these men came from cultural backgrounds that claimed to be Christian. Now, I know not everyone who claims to be Christian is actually Christian (Scripture makes this abundantly clear) but, for the sake of argument, we will assume these men at least had a basic knowledge of Scripture and some measure of respect for it’s teachings — if only because it was their cultural background.

What they did in their direct disobedience to their respective chains of command was exhibit obedience to the very words of Christ, Himself…

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” — John 13:34-35

Jesus commanded believers to love one another. In fact, it would be a sign that they really are His disciples. Their commanding officers, in effect, had ordered them to kill their brothers in Christ. On this night, they decided to obey Christ, instead.

Now, before you send me e-mails directing me to Romans chapter 13 and arguing that God has told us to obey those in authority over us allow me to point out this…

These soldiers called a truce during a time of year when we commemorate the birth of Christ. Consider the biblical account of this…

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. — Luke 2:8-11

Who was born?

Christ the what?


HE IS LORD! His commands come first. He is Lord over everything, even the laws of men and their institutions. I recommend you read Lord of the Law (particularly Part 4, Higher Law) for a better understanding of this concept.

He commanded we show love one for another. Who does the Bible say we should obey — God or men?

Now, you may object and say, “Okay, fine. These three armies came from Christian cultures. Maybe they ought not to have been fighting. But what about armies from non-Christian cultures? To fight such an army would not be killing a brother in Christ, is that okay?”

Let me answer with an account from Scripture…

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He [Jesus] said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” — Luke 10:25-29

This lawyer is offering a similar objection. Christ answers him with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The point being to show love to everyone — even those our culture tells us we should despise.

Never forget: the Kingdom of God is comprised of the elect from every tribe and language. Look forward to that day…

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” — Revelation 5:1-10

The word here translated as “nation” is the Greek word ethnos. It is where we get our word “ethnic.” The Kingdom of God is comprised of people from every ethnic group. So it really does not matter who our earthly kingdoms order us to kill. The army we would see through our gun sights is almost certainly populated with God’s elect.

Maybe that is why Jesus and the leaders of earthly kingdoms have such radically different views concerning our conduct toward enemies. Earthly Kings insist on criminalizing “fraternizing with the enemy” or providing them with “aid and comfort.” Yet Jesus said…

You have heard it said, “You shall love your Neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies…” — Matthew 5:43-44

It’s hard to love someone without fraternizing, aiding and comforting them.

I wonder which point of view Christians ought to adopt.

500 Years Ago Today…

A couple of questions…

Question 1: What kinds of images do we typically associate with Halloween?

Ghosts, goblins, witches, black cats, spiders, bats and the like, right? Well, these images have long been associated with Halloween. In fact, people used to have some pretty interesting beliefs about some of these things. For example…

  • If a candle flame suddenly turns blue, there’s a ghost nearby.
  • If you see a spider on Halloween, it could be the spirit of a dead loved one who is watching you.
  • If a black cat crosses your path it means you will have bad luck. (But that’s only in North America. In England and Ireland it means you will have good luck).
  • If a bat flies around your house three times it is a death omen.

Question 2: What do we typically call these kinds of beliefs?


Definition of “Superstition” — a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge.

I’m going to share a story with you about a very famous monk who fought against superstitions — and one of the most famous things he did was on October 31…

Our story begins some 500 years ago in Medieval Europe with its knights, castles and kings. It is a time when the religious and political worlds are both dominated by the same institution — the Roman Catholic Church. The head of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, was so powerful that he basically ruled all of Europe.

Enter a young man named Martin Luther. In 1505 Martin Luther was a law student in Germany. One evening he was thrown from his horse during a violent thunderstorm. He became so frightened at the storm that he began bargaining with God. He promised God that if God would not kill him he would become a monk. Well, Martin Luther didn’t die. And, being true to his word, Luther began training to become a monk in the Augustinian Order.

In 1507 he became a priest. In 1508 he moved to the town of Wittenburg to serve as a monk, priest and professor. And, in the midst of all of his religious training an interesting thing happened to Luther. He became more and more unsettled about the condition of his soul.

He was doing all the things the world would consider to be “super” religious. He had given up everything for the sake of service in the Roman Catholic Church. The attitude of the day would have been this: If anyone has a sure-fired ticket into heaven it is an Augustinian monk who is also a priest and professor.

Martin Luther should have been a shoe-in.

But he had no peace. And, he drove his superiors almost crazy with questions. They kept trying to assure him that he was right before God. Luther wasn’t so sure. They finally got so fed up with him that they sent him on an errand to Rome — the “holy” city. They thought if Luther could just go to Rome and see the “Capital of Christendom” he would be more at ease.

They were wrong.

When Luther got to Rome, instead of seeing a “holy” city, he saw a city rife with superstition…

The city was filled with relics. There were pieces of wood or nail that people claimed were from the actual cross of Christ. There were skulls and bones of the apostles (or so the owners of the skulls and bones would have you believe). It was believed that if you viewed the relics (after paying a fee, of course) that you could shave a few years off of your time in purgatory.

Um, maybe we should detour here for a sec and review the Roman Catholic doctrine of “purgatory.”

According to the Roman Catholic Church, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross may or may not be sufficient. It may be necessary for Christians to pay for some of their sins themselves — kind of a purification process, if you will — in purgatory, a place that is regarded as hell “light.” We’re talking about perhaps millions of years of suffering before being deemed worthy to enter heaven. So, you can see, the prospect of getting out of some of that time in purgatory was very attractive to many people — a fact the Roman Catholic Church exploited for both political and financial gain (as we will soon see). Back to the story…

In Rome Luther discovered…

  • You could purchase medallions of saints to protect you against… well… pretty much anything.
  • You could pray your way up “Pilate’s staircase” and earn a few years of reprieve from purgatory — just don’t forget to pay your fee.
  • You could buy indulgences.

Maybe we should detour again and learn about “indulgences.”

According to the Roman Catholic Church, some people were so good that they actually earned more merit than they needed in order to get into heaven — people like the apostle Paul. The excess merit is then stored in what is called a “treasury of merit” and may be dispensed at the Pope’s discretion.

They believed, even though Christ died as a substitute for sinful man, we still need to contribute our works to the mix in order to be saved. Most of us don’t do a good enough job of this, so most of us can look forward to purgatory — unless we buy our way out.

At that time a person could borrow from the “treasury of merit” and have the good works of others applied to their account. Give some money to the Catholic Church and receive in exchange a piece of paper confirming your transaction. A piece of paper called an indulgence. Okay, now back to our story…

When Martin Luther returned from Rome he was more disillusioned than ever. He had more questions and more anxiety than ever before. He continued to irritate his superiors. So, they allowed him to study theology. In 1512 he earned a doctor of theology degree and, for the very first time in his life, began reading the Bible for himself.

Over the next few years Luther devoured Scripture. Then, in 1515 Luther read Romans — and it changed his life.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” — Romans 1:16-17

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” — Romans 3:20-25

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 6:23

For the very first time in his life Martin Luther was introduced to the Gospel. He learned that all of us stand condemned before a holy God, that all of us deserve God’s wrath and judgment, and that God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, took our place as the perfect substitute. God the Father poured out His wrath on His own Son, treating Him as if He were a sinner, so that He might treat us as if we had never sinned.

Christ satisfied God’s wrath.

There is NOTHING we can contribute to that.

This is what Martin Luther was learning.

In the meantime, Pope Leo X wanted to renovate St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. But, he needed money to do it. So he used one of the most powerful superstitions available to him to raise money — he sold indulgences.

But this was to be a special indulgence. Leo wanted to make sure he raised the money so he authorized an indulgence that would do more than just shave off some time in purgatory. THIS indulgence would get you out of purgatory all together.

A German monk named John Tetzel was especially good at selling these indulgences. His sales pitch was, “When the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

The people lined up.

However, the Church manipulating people through superstitions in order to get their money, coupled with what Martin Luther had learned from Scripture, made him furious. And so…

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther wrote down a list of 95 things wrong with indulgences — what he called the 95 Theses — and nailed it to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg.

People read it. Then they stopped buying indulgences. This did not sit well with the Pope, so he tried a few things to “fix” the Luther Problem:

  • He sent Catholic theologians to debate Luther in public in hopes of making him look foolish. Luther always won.
  • The Pope arranged a special debate with a really smart guy named John Eck. Luther won that debate.
  • In 1520 the Pope sent an official decree, called a Papal Bull, threatening to kick Martin Luther out of the Church. The Bull said Luther had 60 days to recant (basically the Pope said, “Take it back”) or he’d be excommunicated. Luther didn’t care. He kept on preaching and teaching. The people kept on believing.

So, in 1521 the Pope sent a second Papal Bull that officially kicked Luther out of the Roman Catholic Church and summoned him to a political assembly — The Diet of Worms. Luther went.

At the assembly, Luther was shown a table full of his writings and asked only two questions:

  1. Are these your writings?
  2. Will you recant?

Luther answered “yes” to the first question. To the second question he said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Unless I am shown from Scripture that I am in error I cannot and will not recant. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.”

Here Martin Luther confronted all the superstitions of the Church — remember, a superstition is a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge — with the infallible, authoritative Word of God. He demonstrated where their superstitions were in conflict with God’s Word and told them God’s Word was right and they were wrong. Do you know what they did?

They declared Luther an outlaw.

Now, Luther had been promised a safe passage to and from the assembly, but the political powers had already decided that if he did not recant they would kill him on his way back to Wittenburg. But, some of Luther’s friends knew about the plan and they staged a kidnapping and took him back to a secret castle in the Black Forest.

He escaped the Catholics and continued to preach and teach until he died in 1546. His actions were a part of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a remarkable time when the Church actually started abandoning many of the superstitions that had dominated it for hundreds of years in order to return to the teachings of Scripture.

It’s fun for us to look back into history and admire the courage of a man like Luther.  We see the things he stood against and wonder how anyone could have been fooled by such silliness. After all, those superstitions they were believing were NOT in the Bible. How could they believe such nonsense?

We like to imagine that had we been in Luther’s place we would have done the same thing. But the thing is, when you are living in the midst of powerful superstitions you are susceptible to them, too. You are influenced by them.

Luther had people all around him, people he respected and trusted, who tried to convince him that he was wrong and the superstitions they had all believed in  for so long were right.

Do you think you would have had the courage to stand up against such superstition? When everyone around you is telling you that the superstitions are correct — but you see no support for them in the Bible — do you think you would have had the courage of Luther to stand solely on the authority of Scripture?

Do you want to find out?

There are powerful, deeply-held, superstitions in the Church today.

I’ll mention one to you. Take note of your initial response. Here goes…

How is someone saved?

In the evangelical Church today the most predominate answer to that question is something like this…

  • You just have to “ask Jesus into your heart.”
  • You just have to “pray the sinner’s prayer.”

Those concepts are nowhere in Scripture. They are gross superstitions.

I know. Our initial reaction to this is to recoil a bit. But search the Scriptures — find, “ask Jesus into your heart” or the “sinner’s prayer.” They just aren’t there. Here’s what the Bible says about being saved…

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” — Mark 1: 14-15

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” — Romans 10:9

Repent. Believe. Confess.

Today people convince themselves they are saved because one day they prayed a prayer. In Martin Luther’s day people thought they were saved because they were given a piece of paper by some monk or priest.

Neither of these is biblical. The Bible says…

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” — 2 Corinthians 13:5

During October many people in the Church like to confront the superstitions associated with Halloween. This year join them.

Just add one more superstition to the list.

Seeing with Kingdom Eyes

It would appear the things that seem most troubling in our world (when we look at them with political or nationalistic eyes) are actually the things that are most praise worthy (when we look at them with kingdom eyes). Consider the the mass immigration of Muslim refugees into Europe. Politically speaking, that situation was very, very troublesome for the indigenous peoples of Europe. But, when we look at the situation with kingdom eyes, we have great reason to rejoice…

Waves of Muslims are coming to Christ.

Muslims are coming to Christ at an historic rate.

Muslim refugees are converting to Christianity.

Muslim converts are even breathing new life into Europe’s struggling Churches.

Now, I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but a few years ago I speculated about this very thing. Drawing from the example of how the early church spread, I sought to speculate about a few “what ifs.” What if God really was using the disturbing things in our contemporary world to orchestrate His perfect will for His kingdom. This is what I wrote on February 4, 2013…

When Alexander the Great conquered portions of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, he was trying to make a name for himself. He was extremely selfishly motivated. He was convinced Greek culture was the superior culture in the world and everyone should adopt it — whether they wanted to or not. As you can well imagine, many of the people conquered by Alexander resented his rule, — including a small, insignificant population in a tiny place called Judea.

Empire11Alexander died quite young, however, and his empire was left to four of his top generals. Their reigns resulted in an ongoing power struggle against one another, which, in turn, opened an opportunity for another group of conquerors known as the Romans.

When the Romans conquered portions of the British Isles, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, they were out to make a name for themselves. They were extremely selfishly motivated. They wanted to built a vast and mighty empire and they thought it entirely proper to confiscate the wealth and resources of any country they could conquer in order to accomplish their goals. Of course, the people they conquered resented Roman rule — including a small, insignificant population in a tiny place called Judea.

This small, insignificant population in Judea was particularly ill at ease over the continued occupation of their land. You see, they were God’s people, chosen from among all the nations of the earth. They were the ones to whom God had sent His prophets. They were the ones to whom God had given His law. Through them God had promised to send a King — a Messiah — who would be their deliverance.

And now, under the heavy yoke of Roman oppression, they waited for Messiah to come. There was just one problem…

The viewed the world with political eyes.

Roman rule over them was unjust. It was oppressive. They just knew when Messiah came He would throw off the Roman oppressors and restore Judea and Jerusalem to it’s former glory — like in the days of King Solomon. When Messiah came, God would be at work again. They just failed to realize God had always been at work.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” — Galatians 4:4-5

When Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was born it was at the perfect point in history — so orchestrated by God.

It’s true Alexander the Great had no notion of paving the way for Jesus to come. Yet in his conquests he had spread a common language to three continents and the crossroads between them. Whatever else people spoke, they also spoke Koine Greek, the “common” language of the people.

Empire9It’s also true the Romans did not care one whit about the God of the Jews. But in their conquests they had built an incredible road system in between cities so that their army could move with strategic speed in the defense of their empire. They ruled with an iron fist so as to quell any dissent among the conquered people. Therefore criminals were dealt with quickly and harshly. It brought about a relative peace throughout the empire known as the Pax Romana, the “Roman Peace.”

Interesting turn of events — Those safe Roman roads made it quite easy for the average Joe to travel the empire, including traders, merchants…

… and apostles.

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ was planted in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, new converts, with a zeal for sharing this wonderful news, had ease of travel to take this message to people who’d never heard. And guess what? When they got to where they were going they encountered people who spoke the same language.


Things that for centuries had been viewed as political and military defeats — even regarded as national disasters of indescribable proportions — were nothing more than the minuscule manipulations of a sovereign God in His construction of His Kingdom. Alexander the Great and all the Caesars of Rome were nothing more than tools in the hand of Almighty God, accomplishing His perfect will.

And, while the Jews in Judea saw the world through political eyes, God opened the eyes of His apostles so that they might see the world with Kingdom eyes. This message of Jesus Christ is for all nations. Borders and cultures are all to be breeched with the Gospel. It is by this means God intends to save His people.

Which brings us to our point in history.

The world is still in conflict. There are still people out there who are extremely selfishly motivated and work diligently for the accomplishment of their own goals. And, when we see them making headway, it is easy to become discouraged. Just a few examples should make the point…

  • Muslims are immigrating to Europe in unprecedented numbers. Islamic families are producing four to five times the number of children than European families. Statisticians speculate that Muslims could outnumber non-Muslims in many European countries by 2025. At which point Muslims, who have tried and failed numerous times in history to invade and conquer Europe, would become the majority demographic. Many Europeans are not happy about this.
  • Many people view Hispanic immigration in the United States as a serious problem — for a variety of reasons.
  • Many citizens of the United States realize the U.S. federal government is becoming more and more oppressive by the day, seeking to micromanage more and more aspects of Americans’ lives. Many people who occupy high offices in the federal government are becoming openly and increasingly hostile to a Christian worldview — and many Americans are unhappy about this.

These kinds of things lead some to ask the question, “When is God going to get to work again?” Please don’t fail to realize God has always been at work. Let’s play a little game of “What if…”

  • What if — God is orchestrating the immigration of Muslims into Europe so that they may be introduced to the Gospel. Many of them come from countries where the Gospel is forbidden. What if He is moving them into an environment where they will become more likely to hear about the Messiah.
  • What if — God is orchestrating the immigration of Hispanics into the United States so that they may be introduced to the Gospel. Many of them come from countries where they are so bound by cultural religious practices that it becomes very different for them to hear the truth of Scripture. What if God brought them to the United States so that they might be saved and then return to their home counties as missionaries.
  • What if — God is orchestrating more and more hostility toward Christianity in the United States in order to purge His church of pretenders and to bring about revival. What if He plans to use persecution to mobilize us in ways we can’t yet see?

Thid-IslamicHatYou might be thinking that the people in a couple of these examples are openly hostile toward God and His Word. The Muslims migrating to Europe have an agenda to spread Islam. Many of the political leaders in the United States are seeking to make as many people dependant upon them, thereby insuring for themselves a sustained grasp on power. To accomplish this they need to destroy any notion that people may have of depending upon anyone else — including God.

Granted. Some of these people are openly hostile toward God.

So was Paul.

Paul (or, at the time, Saul) was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and see them in jail or worse. He had an encounter with Christ. He was changed into one of the fiercest allies of the Gospel ever. God still does this sort of thing. The people who now are at odds with God may find themselves transformed after they’ve had an encounter with the very Gospel they seek to destroy. And all of these situations we view as terrible we can know are ultimately nothing more than the miniscule manipulations of a sovereign God who is busy building His kingdom.

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” — Ephesians 1:11

We can be either greatly discouraged or greatly encouraged by what we see. The question we need to answer is this:

Do we see the world with political eyes or Kingdom eyes?

God Wrote a Book

When Nobody is Watching

Recently the Baltimore Orioles hosted a baseball game at their home ballpark, Camden Yards, in front of no fans. Because of riots in the city, the stadium was closed and the game was played in eerie silence. Dr. David Black, a professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, had the very best take on the situation I’ve read. He posted it at his blog, If you haven’t already, you should go visit his blog. In the meantime, take a look at what he had to say about the game with no fans…

My mind went to all of the saints who “play ball” without ever getting any attention or recognition. Many of them housewives. Friend, let me encourage you. Your time, talents, and contributions are known to God. What you do is vastly important to Him. Millions of people exist only for the praise of others. If you and I do not allow God to develop our identity, we will try to find it in people and popularity. Finding your purpose in human praise is like building your life on sand. I know of one young leader who is committed to his little flock not far from our farm. There he ministers, week in and week out, for no pay. He plays piano and leads the singing and teaches the word in what one might call “total obscurity.” The people want to make him their “pastor” and pay him but he refuses. He will never write a best-selling book or be invited to speak in chapel. But I look up to him. I’m just trying to make the point that even godly Christian leaders can turn the church into marketers and people into commodities. Grow where you are planted. Serve in obscurity if that is what the Lord has asked you to do. Be an Andrew. The most famous thing Andrew ever did was to introduce his brother Simon Peter to the Lord. What if the greatest thing you ever did was to cause someone else to be closer to Jesus? No friends on Facebook. No followers on Twitter. But what could be more epic than pointing others to Christ?

Amen, Brother Dave. You hit the mark. arrowsbw

Reflections on the Indiana RFRA

Denny Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College in Louisville, KY, has written a wonderful piece about the real conflict in Indiana regarding religious freedom legislation. Here is a fantastic takeaway quote…

“America is a flash in the historical pan. Christianity is not. We will outlast you. Mark it down. And in the final analysis, the “wrong side of history” will be to Jesus’ left, and you don’t want to find yourself there (Mark 25:33).

May I Quote You, Dr. Sproul?


It Is Finished…


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