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Discounted Citizenship

Did you know that as Christians our true citizenship is in heaven?  Philippians 3:20-21, states “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” What, exactly, does this mean? And do we act like we really believe it? How should we act if we really believe it? I think it goes to our allegiance.

The Lord keeps putting this notion in my mind as a reminder that my true allegiance is first and foremost eternal, to heaven and my King and Lord, and not to the USA, England, China or any other earthly nation, power, or human. It’s not that these other things can’t get and keep my attention; it’s just that when it comes to all things, my first thought needs to be, “How does this play out in the Kingdom of God?” That is my true heritage, and so I must always try to keep it intact.

Nevertheless, when followers of Jesus put other things – like their “patriotism” – ahead of heaven, they discount their true heritage and citizenship and they dishonor their Lord. This also happens when they mix up their true heritage with other worldly things, like notions that are part of “Christian nationalism” or politics.

Indeed, as followers of Jesus, our eternal citizenship is far more powerful than any earthly citizenship. That’s because we’re not only citizens of heaven, we’re literal heirs to God’s Kingdom. Paul wrote this often, such as to the Galatians (3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”), and to the Romans (8:16-17, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”).  If you were an actual heir to an earthly kingdom, such as Great Britain, would you even consider being citizen of some other worldly place? No way! Being an heir is far more powerful than simply having citizenship. So, if we know and believe we are also heirs to the Kingdom of God, why would we align or put our allegiance anywhere else? Well, we wouldn’t. And we shouldn’t.

Still, during this past year I’ve seen a rise in the United States of what many people are calling “Christian nationalism” – or, as Tim and I call it, “political Christians,” meaning people who identify a particular political party with Christianity or who have generally allowed politics to get all mixed up in their theology. In short, they’re putting their allegiance somewhere beside the place of their true citizenship – the Kingdom of God.

We’ve written about this dangerous way of thinking before, and it appears to be uniquely American. Only in our country do some of us believe that WE, the people, have to vote a certain way and pray the right man into leadership, and that if he doesn’t win it is a “stolen election,” against God’s will, and driven by Satan. This isn’t only dangerous to the democracy in the USA, it’s also discounting the Truth of the Word of God. As Tim and I have often written before, if you think God is so weak that He needs you to vote a particular way for Him to achieve his ends, then – at the very least – you don’t believe in the complete sovereignty of God, which is a central tenet of what we all proclaim to believe as Christians. Noted Christian apologist, R.C. Sproul, was fairly harsh on this matter; to him, if someone didn’t believe in God’s sovereignty in all things, he was likely to call them an atheist. Now, this was mostly an outrageous statement designed to get people’s attention. But, to Sproul, questions about God’s sovereignty didn’t distinguish between, say, Christians and Muslims or between one Christian denomination with another. They distinguished between theists and atheists. Ouch.

Of course, all this leads to a more refined discussion on free will, prayer, and other complicated notions like determinism, but that’s left for another day. My point on this day is that whenever you discount something as fundamental as the sovereignty of God, you also discount your own citizenship in His Kingdom, which should have led you to trust in God all along. You do so especially when you show an allegiance to some other entity or philosophy vying for your “citizenship,” such as a political party. Our true citizenship is eternal and heavenly, and in that realm (and, indeed, in this, His created realm) God needs no help whatsoever. Knowing that, why would you ever shift your allegiance?

But I see people mixing their citizenships and shifting allegiances all the time. Recently, I had an encounter with a neighbor while I was gardening in front of my house. Usually, when I meet someone, I always try to test the Spiritual waters of that person, and so I often mention God, Jesus, or Christianity in passing. This time, the person actually said, “Oh good, you’re a Christian. There are a bunch of us at the end of the block and we’re all Republicans, too.” Stop! Did you notice that? A complete mixing of theology and politics.

I was immediately disturbed. First, I was disturbed for her to associate a particular political party to Christianity – indeed, to the exclusion of other people (parties) like Democrats and Independents. Jesus was Not political and, indeed, his apolitical ways were one reason why the religious leaders of his day wanted to arrest him as he appeared a clear threat to their own political power and way of life. But, second, I was disturbed because I think it signaled that she had discounted her heavenly citizenship. She was shifting her allegiance right before my eyes.  

The fact is that having an eternal, heavenly citizenship is bound to lead to being a bit of an outcast to everyone else in the world. If you truly believe you are an heir to God’s Kingdom, then you’ll probably be both disappointed and encouraged (and thus, likely be both correcting and praising) various aspects and positions of all political parties. If those positions don’t line up with the Bible, then they simply aren’t a part of the place to which you enjoy citizenship and, indeed, are an heir.

You may recall that Jesus admonished and rebuked the religious leaders of his time, the Pharisees and Sadducees, for taking Gods’ word and applying it in an overly-humanistic and religious manner, while forgetting what the intention of the word was in the first place.  Specifically, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for parading themselves in ostentatious clothing, demanding to be addressed by titles, and requiring the best seats at banquets. He called them out for hypocrisy and lying. Sound familiar? How many of our “Christian” leaders are just searching for recognition, forever trying to be photographed with some important person, and hoping to find a platform where many people can see them (and, of course, pay them). The Sadducees, on the other hand, were the political religious leaders. Aligned with Rome, they had a tremendous amount of political power that they used to accommodate the Romans in maintaining the status quo. They had their hands in everything going on in the temple, and they displayed alarm at Jesus’ ministry. Sound familiar? How many of our “Christian” leaders are overtly political, bound up in the workings of government? How many issue prophesies over elections? Indeed, how many would be alarmed at a ministry like that of Jesus were it to surface today?

It may be that these earlier groups didn’t really understand why Jesus rebuked them. They likely thought they were doing everything right by following their own notions of Jewish law and the realities of Roman rule. But they’d never seen anything like Jesus. He was like some sort of alien. His citizenship was eternal. His allegiance was to the Kingdom.   

My question to us today is, where is our true citizenship?  Where do our hearts reside?  We’re either 100% Christian and citizens of heaven or we’re not. Accordingly, we must remember our allegiance, and must never discount our true citizenship by even one percent.

Subtle Spiritual Warfare

As you may recall, my heart’s been very grieved this past year with all that’s been happening in the world, our country, and the church, and yet I’ve been prevented in the past couple of months from telling you what’s going on. Not prevented by God, but prevented by the enemy through a bit of spiritual warfare. This particular warfare has focused on making me question my worthiness to speak my heart and the heart of God to all of you. I know it’s wrong, but please forgive me for succumbing to these lies and leaving you without a word these past many weeks. Nevertheless, it gave me an idea of a topic.  

So, today I want to talk about the subtly of spiritual warfare in preparation for a series of posts about false prophets and what’s happening in the church and the supernatural. What I hope, in the end and based on my own recent experience, is that we can learn a bit about how to grow, press in, and sharpen our spiritual discernment about what we’re facing when we seek to do God’s will.

I’ve always believed that when I encounter “overt” spiritual warfare that I should – counterintuitively – be happy about it. That’s because overt spiritual warfare doesn’t happen to me unless I’m doing something really good that the enemy does not want me to do or accomplish. Sometimes this knowledge, by itself, gives me the courage and faith to stay the course or press on. 

You may also recall from my previous posts that I’ve spent much of this past pandemic year studying and immersing myself in education in the biblical principles, the supernatural, and specific books in the bible, including many classes on the Book of Revelation.  Throughout this entire time, I never really experienced any overt warfare – something that other followers of Jesus told me they were experiencing – and so I often wondered if I was doing something wrong or if God had just placed me on a shelf for a while.  What I mean by “overt” warfare is warfare that is SO obvious, like illness, financial despair, relationship difficulties, stress, tragedy and calamity, that you immediately know it to be what it is. Basically, it’s warfare that’s designed to stop you in your tracks and make you retreat inside of yourself or to stop doing what you are doing. You know, like quit! Or worse, question your own faith. I didn’t have any of this, and I’ve been very grateful to be able to rest in the peace of the Lord by not experiencing these types of things. Nonetheless, I occasionally wondered why I felt a bit “spiritually off course.” Turns out it was due to “subtle” warfare, which, in many ways, can be more insidious and deadly to the Spirit of God. 

The whole notion of “subtle” warfare automatically makes it harder to discern. It’s like putting a frog in a pot of water and bringing up the temperature until he’s boiled to death before he even knows it. In my case, it was the enemy planting tiny seeds of doubt into my brain such as, “Who says I know enough about God to speak about Him? Am I really worthy to be used by God to teach others? Is the Lord really giving me a gift to develop, or am I just fooling myself?” Subtle warfare involves the enemy whispering into one’s brain, but also using the business of “world” things and life (cleaning, organizing the house), TV, Internet, news, procrastination, and weariness as distractions from one’s learning, developing, and fellowshipping with the Lord.

The bottom line is that all of these things – doubt, procrastination, distraction – can be held up to the Word of God and assessed for what they are, which is an attempt to keep someone from spending precious earth time with their Father in Heaven. Basically, if it doesn’t point to God’s glory, then it’s likely coming from some other place that you’d rather not be. Moreover, even if the source is benign, the enemy will be right there to twist it in your brain so that it affects you in way most likely to harm you. The key is to see it all in real time, and without some long reflective period that wastes a lot of your spiritual time and energy.

So, I’ve been praying for the strategies of the enemy to be revealed to me immediately, and I’ve realized that when he can’t get you off track with overt warfare, he will resort to trying things to throw you off more subtly. Let me ask you if you’ve ever had these thoughts or feelings.

  1.  Weariness, tiredness or short attention span reading the Bible or in any biblical teaching?  SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  2. Sleeping past your set appointment with God?  SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  3. Distractions due to household things (laundry, cooking, cleaning – ugh) when you’ve set aside time to study or pray!  SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  4. Finding yourself surfing the internet or some social media site before you logon to watch a Godly program or speaker? SUBTLE WARFARE!!
  5. Just not “feeling” like opening the Word or praying!  SUBTLE WARFARE!! Your flesh is in control here – not you! Take charge!
  6. The lie that you’ve been studying so hard, you deserve a break.  SUBTLE and a LIE! I mean, really, a break from what?  Doing something I love to do and spending time with my Lord whom I love? 

These might seem like the kinds of thoughts we have constantly in our lives. And so, we have to keep reminding ourselves that nobody said this whole following God thing would be easy. We are aliens in a strange land –indeed, we’re behind enemy lines – and we shouldn’t be surprised if even the most mundane of thoughts can be used against us to slow our walk with God.

By the way, a good biblical example of this kind of subtlety is found in Luke 10: 41-42, when Jesus was at the house of Martha. One translation writes, “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Martha may not have seen her distractions as subtle warfare, but all the hallmarks are there. It probably seemed important at the time. Indeed, good stewardship of one’s home is important. But at that very moment, her distractions took her away from Jesus himself, and even he recognized the problem.

Okay, so we’ve seen that warfare doesn’t have to be some horrible disease, some scary nightmare, some incredibly anxious feeling about how to proceed in the world. We’ve seen that it can take the form of the small, but not insignificant mental hurdles that come every day to hinder our attempt to press into God. So, what in the world do we do?

Well, on the assumption that Satan or some demon will likely be involved in messing with me on a daily basis, I start each day by thanking God for my authority to bind the enemy’s plan and then by forcefully binding these feelings and distractions. Basically – and I do this is out loud, mind you – I tell the enemy that I’m spending time seeking God and that I simply won’t allow him to thwart that effort in any way. Like overt warfare, I remind myself that the simple fact of having these distractions placed upon me is a sign that what I am trying to do – sans distractions – must be important to God or the enemy wouldn’t bother with it at all. None of this life is easy, and the battle that goes on inside our heads is the one place that Satan can create the most havoc. Remember that David wrote: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13:2.

When we read this, we may think of ourselves, but pursuant to the word, the answers are pretty clear.

How long must we wrestle with our thoughts? If we’re doing God’s will, then as long as we’re still living behind enemy lines, we’ll be waging war. We’ll likely wrestle with them for our entire earthly lives. 

But, how long will our enemy triumph over us? No longer. In fact, with Jesus, our enemy is already defeated, and all we need to do is exert our authority to stop all warfare, subtle or not. With Jesus, Satan’s attempts at warfare are desperate, pitiful, and ineffectual, and so he won’t be allowed to triumph not one second longer!  He is revealed and rebuked!

Peter encourages us, writing: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Pet. 5-8. Lions, too, can be overt in their attacks, coming at someone with great fury. But they can also stalk people, messing with their minds by “playing” with them and subtly tormenting them. Either tactic must be recognized for what it is, and fought with equal vigor. 

Are We Selling God Short? (Part 2)

This blog was written by Tim, my husband.

This article, https://www.christianpost.com/voices/fri-2nd-embargo-for-noon-we-are-pro-life-evangelicals-for-biden.html?fbclid=IwAR1tf4aIvz53xyfDypNs7SAi9QaEL-ri4jvg1ws7bFRIw-9UPN2RTFp0WXA, and this statement, https://www.prolifeevangelicalsforbiden.com/, were recently written by a group of pro-life “evangelicals” who are, nonetheless, urging people to vote for Joe Biden. Like them, I am (along with Denise) personally against abortion. We want every child to be born into a loving family, and if that family cannot handle the important duties of raising children, then we want the child to be adopted into an equally loving family. Nevertheless, this article and statement mostly made me think deeper about certain theological issues that are raised by the whole issue. So, read the article and statement, and I’ll only add two things.   

First, as a lawyer, I echo the statement that even if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe, there isn’t all that much that will change. It means the decision will be left to the states, and most states simply aren’t ready to get rid of abortion. Having worked in the federal courts, I simply don’t see the clear connection between putting someone conservative on the Supreme Court and “ending abortion.” It’s far more complicated.

Second, and for all my friends who are followers of Jesus, I encourage you to think deeply about the theology you’re embracing when you think that it’s crucial for you to vote for a particular President in order to advance God’s Kingdom and purpose, and particularly to vote in order to see one biblical thing accomplished at the expense of all others.  

As we mentioned in this blog before, if you’re a Christian, you undoubtedly believe in Divine Providence (or what one might call His wise and purposeful sovereignty), which is simply the belief that God is in control of all things to accomplish His plan. That’s an important part of Christian theology, most arguments against it are strained, and I simply disagree with any even unstrained arguments that tend to diminish God’s knowledge and authority over all things. In sum, Divine Providence is an important pillar of our faith.

Indeed, think about what it looks like if you don’t believe that. It means that you think God is constantly surprised, and possibly even confused by what’s happening in the world. There are actually people who believe this (they’re sometimes called “open theists”), but I think you’ll recognize that such a notion seems at least superficially unbiblical and is definitely unsatisfying. In fact, we followers of Jesus often say these things out loud – God is in control; God knows everything; God is all powerful; God is morally perfect. God is, as Saint Anselm described, the perfect being or the “greatest conceivable being,” and perfect being theology is on par with scripture for giving us insight into God’s nature. If God weren’t perfect, we’d simply have little reason to worship Him. And, as I’ve frequently said after years of study, I’ve come to reject all arguments that tend to dimmish any of God’s perfect characteristics. In sum, a God who is surprised or shocked at human events isn’t much of a God.

But if you do, in fact, believe in Divine Providence, then you have to recognize that God is in charge now just as He has been in charge all throughout human history until now. Indeed, He has allowed abortion – just as He has allowed wars, famine, murder, and pandemics – for what we can only fathom to be His incomparably good reasons. That’s not to say that God is bad or evil, or even that he is remotely pleased by anything considered evil. It’s simply the likely inevitable outcome of creating free willed creatures and actualizing a world that produces what He wants in the way of an eternal Kingdom for those creatures. The discussion of why certain bad things happen in the world when we have an all-powerful and perfectly good God is called by theologians the “problem of evil,” and if you’ve never looked into it, I encourage you to do so, as it’s a primary reason that people choose atheism. In sum, whether articulated as a logical or a probability issue, the problem of evil should never stand in the way of your belief in God. Similarly, following notions of God’s Divine Providence, you can find equally cogent arguments by Christian scholars as to why God might have allowed abortion to happen and not need anyone’s help with eliminating it.  

The point is that if you believe in Divine Providence (as nearly all Christians do), then you quickly move off track when you think that without your help – for example, without your vote for a particular person for political office – God cannot get done what He wants to get done. The fact is, God doesn’t need your help, and the future is as unsurprising to God as the past.

Interestingly, and for whatever reasons, it appears that it is only in America that we tend to discount God in such a manner. Indeed, as we mentioned in our last blog, prominent Old Testament scholar Knute Heim (who has ministries on something like four continents) once told me that thinking that God needs our help to achieve His kingdom and purpose is a uniquely American notion. Something about our independence I suppose.

Personally, I’m a Molinist, which means that I believe that by using His middle knowledge, God gave up neither divine providence nor libertarian creaturely freedom, and created a universe (or actualized a world out of all possible worlds) in which a certain amount of suffering was inevitable. That means that I still have the ability to choose to do what’s right, but it also means that I know without doubt that whatever happens in the world has been allowed by God for an incomparable good that I might never fully understand. His plan is to grow His kingdom, and I have to leave it to God to best determine how to do it.

Nevertheless, even if you are one of those Christian folks I mentioned (the “open theist,” above) who thinks that personal free-will actions can somehow change God’s overall plan, then you’re still in the same boat as people like me, who affirm libertarian free will but also absolute Divine Providence at the same time. The question that must be answered is what, as free-willed individuals, we’re to do on a daily basis to adhere to our Biblical worldview. To an open theist, I think the answer would be easy. On any given day, the open theist would try to make decisions that follow clear biblical principles. When the question becomes casting a vote between one person versus another, then it seems most rational to vote for the person who, overall, generally advances biblical principles more than his or her opponent, since nobody can fully live up to Jesus’ example. This position would be based on a number of things, including the notion that as a perfectly Holy being, God treats all sins the same. To the open theist, the statement I linked, above, would seem to articulate fully why he or she should vote where the balance is tipped in favor of one candidate better following the Bible than the other.

By the way, I note that the first comment to the linked story (when I first read it) says that “the blood of tens of millions of murdered babies cries out to God for justice.” But even open theists believe that God is perfectly just and thus are likely to believe, as I do, that justice has already been provided in His plan for these babies. Again, to think that casting a vote a certain way is the only way to “bring justice” to the issue is to, once again, diminish another attribute of God that is central to the Christian religion.

If you’re not an open theist, however, and, like me, you’ve already grappled with how to reconcile Divine Providence and libertarian free will, then you’re still in the same position. Divine Providence should not keep you from doing the right thing on any given day (as on the Molinist view, the plan can be still be affected by, for example, specific actions or petitionary prayers), but having libertarian freedom should in no way make you think that you’re God’s only way to achieve his purpose. It’s a bit complicated, but the result is really the same in the sense that you have an obligation to act in a biblical way on discreet issues every day. Accordingly, as a Molinist, and when choosing between two people for office, I similarly would likely vote for the one who tends to foster overall biblical principles the most. I understand that, for whatever reason, God chose a world in which sin (including abortion, but also lying, hypocrisy, and hating) exists, but I still feel an obligation to do my individual part to follow the Bible in my own actions, whether or not it has any bearing on God’s overall plan. I would much rather God tell me, “Good job following your heart and the biblical principles even though the result is not what you wanted,” than ask me, “Whey didn’t you follow biblical principles? Did you think that I didn’t have everything under control?” 

The upcoming election provides special circumstances, however. In any normal election, one might see a mix of pros and cons, biblically speaking, for any particular candidate. But in this election, I see one candidate trying to reach Christians by speaking to only one issue (abortion), while disregarding, if not willingly flouting, every other biblical principal I can list. Indeed, in previous blogs, I’ve written that the Republican candidate actually espouses a life credo that is identical to that found in Laveyan Satanism (a sort-of opposite Golden Rule). Such is his disdain for God’s creatures. Personally, I would never base my vote for a person on a single issue when doing so literally means discarding scores of other, equally important biblical principles like poverty, racism, hypocrisy, dishonesty, conserving the planet, and hatred. Indeed, to do so would be akin to striking a Faustian bargain with the devil, which, as you know from reading the legend of Faust, inevitably ends with the corruption of one’s soul.

In the end, and as we mentioned previously, we simply shouldn’t sell God short. Everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen is under His control. Whether we like it or not – and certainly whether we understand it all – it’s all a part of His plan to create a Kingdom into which you – by being created with God’s purpose in mind – are invited.

Are We Selling God Short?

To say my spirit is grieved these days is an understatement, given all the hate, discord, fighting, and arguing in our world. I think most of us will agree that the division we’re seeing in the U.S. has mostly surrounded political issues, and – if you’re like me and have lived several decades – seems to have grown exponentially over just the last few years. I have personally noticed that even in the last twenty years people have become simultaneously more open in their own opinions and less tolerant of others opinions/beliefs. Sometimes that lack of tolerance comes out as absolutely hateful and condemning. To me, it just seems like during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s people seemed to have retained a measure of respect for others and their wellbeing as well as some basic manners to keep peace in social interactions. My husband recalls that both his dad and his grandfather were state political party chairman, and yet they were able to communicate their beliefs without degrading others. Frankly, I’m not sure where we got the idea that people need to hear our opinions at all. I suppose it has a lot to do with the Internet and the perceived anonymity that it brings, but that’s a topic for later on. The point is that right now hateful political partisanship is rampant in our country, and seeing it both saddens and embarrasses me.

As a follower of Christ, I have to wonder how this came about. How in the world did politics so infiltrate our churches that now some Christians hold it above everything, including the Truth of what God is saying? I mean, thirty years ago, if you had said that in the future there would be a growing discontent over certain concrete biblical doctrines in the church, I might have said, “Well, that makes some sense.” But, instead, its politics mostly divorced from doctrine. People have actually tied their “religion” to a political party, such that anyone not of that party is thought to be heretical – or worse. And, perhaps even more disturbing, we’ve lost touch with our own basic Christian tenets while waging this monstrously stupid “culture war.”

Let me give you an example. It’s a fundamental pillar of the Christian faith that God is in control. We might speak of this notion in terms of divine attributes, such as His omnipotence and omniscience or through his comprehensive divine providence. There is not a single thing that gets past Him and that does not conform to his overall purpose. Proverbs 16:4 says, “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Lamentations 3:37 states, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?” Romans 8:28 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” He knew us before we were born and has numbered the hairs on our heads. There’s not a single thing that happens – not even the fall of a single sparrow, as it says in the Bible – that has not been designed to fulfill His plan. Think about it; every single thing that has happened so far in the world and every single thing that will happen in the future is part of God’s plan for the universe. Why, then, do we sell him short?

How do we do that, you may ask? By thinking that somehow His plan cannot be realized without our constant, vocal, and increasingly hateful attempts to push forward mere humans to eliminate sin or to create some new Christian revival. We think, quite erroneously, that things simply cannot happen without our getting involved – loudly involved – at any cost, including the cost of violating various other core biblical principles. Worse, we think we know His plan, and we violate His law in trying to force it to happen. Basically, to win, we don’t act anything like true Christians.

On our trip to Israel, prominent Old Testament Professor Knute Heim said it was a “uniquely American” notion not to trust God in these matters. He simply didn’t see the same thing happening anywhere else in the world, and he has ministries on something like four Continents. It appears to be Americans, alone, who think they need to run the show.

So, I’m bothered by the fact that we don’t seem to follow what we say we believe, which is that God is in firmly control. But I think I’m more bothered by the fact that in doing so we’re also missing God’s overall will or purpose, which is to bring people into the Kingdom. Ever since a large segment of the church aligned itself with a particular political party in the late 1970s and early 1980s, we have had a difficulty in being biblical referees in the political arena. As followers of Jesus, we are in a unique position based on our alien status to reflect and communicate what is right and wrong about society in a neutral way. Like a referee. It shouldn’t matter who does or says what; if it doesn’t line up with God’s word, we are supposed to be there to illuminate it. When that is done, people say, “Look at those Christians, they’re always on the side of right.” Instead, what I’ve seen lately is a tendency not to call out sin, but to justify it because, for the most part, calling it out would benefit that party with which we do not agree.

That’s too bad, because people in both parties are doing bad things, and by not calling those things out as we see them, we are misrepresenting our beliefs, God, and the Bible. I’ve always personally believed that the worst possible supernatural judgment will come to those who thwart people from seeking God. And we do that every day by not calling out anything that is not Biblical. Indeed, these actions make people think that we believe God is not in control. They make people think that it’s okay to demean and degrade people for sake of winning a political issue. They make people think that followers of Jesus are just massive hypocrites, who have no idea what the Bible even says.

All of this seems especially important today simply because so many in the church seem to believe that unless they “destroy” whoever is in the “other” party, the world will decay and end. They believe that personal insertion into politics at any cost is the only way to save the universe. Well, guess what? God doesn’t need you to save the universe. He’s created it, and he’s already saved it. And, moreover, it will end on God’s timing with the creation of a new heaven and earth. What people do in this life is important with eternal consequences, but that’s exactly why they need to stop and assess the costs of getting “their” way.

Now, people might think that having their chosen person in political office is the key to a religious revival. That’s apparently what Texas politician Rick Perry believed not long ago, when he told the current President that he was the “chosen one.” But let me remind you that the Bible does not end in a revival, but in tribulation. God’s choice of someone to lead any particular nation may be, in fact, designed to bring that particular end to pass.

So, practically speaking, what do we do? This question can get complicated pretty quickly when one starts talking about determinism, open theism, and middle knowledge, but I think the key is for followers of Jesus to start acting like the biblical referees they are called to be and to cease doing things at any cost. Yes, there will come a point when people will be asked to vote for a particular person for political office. So, they should vote. But they shouldn’t tear the entire house down – demeaning others, misinterpreting the Bible, spewing hatred, spreading false prophesies – trying to get that person elected. Above all, they should begin acting as though they actually believe that God is in control. How people vote may have some secular consequences, but whether they follow biblical principles in how they vote, for whom they vote, and why they vote is far more meaningful to God. His will is going to get done no matter what they do.

So, do remember, Saints. God IS in control. He has always has had a plan for this world and that plan will happen likely completely outside of our human wills and desires. For those of us fervently seeking Him, seeking His ways, and to trying to know Him better, remember also that we’ll always find provision and peace in uncertain times, so if we’re not at peace, we must press in. Prayer is the supernatural force that unlocks the heavenlies and calls the angelic into action and must be a part of our daily worship. So, when in doubt, pray. But pray knowing that His will is perfect and always gets done.

Personally, I’ve been spending more time in the Word and in quiet time asking God to show me things I need to change in me to make myself more pleasing to Him. For what it’s worth, I was instructed to spend less time watching the news, and far less time thinking about politics, the virus, or any variety of unwholesome informational sources in order to clear my spirt so I can hear and see Truth in what is happening in our world. Trust me when I say that I still have a long way to go, but the Lord quickened in me that I am accountable for how I spend my time and He has told many of us that this COVID time is to be a time of preparation for what comes next. I don’t spend every moment in the Word, but the more I read, the more I recognize how little I truly know about my Father in Heaven. That knowledge, in turn, makes me ravenous for His Word, which really is a good example of a virtuous circle. All of this has given me a tremendous amount of peace right now – in fact, I have more uplifting peace that I can remember!

My heart’s desire for you, my brothers and sisters, is for immeasurable revelation of Truth, knowledge, and wisdom as well as a personal relationship with our Lord to embrace you and your own hearts. I pray for open minds to see and discern the lies and deceptions of the enemy, and to recognize his work in dividing our nation, families, friends, and churches. I pray for that spirit of evil to leave any and all followers of Jesus so that we can grow in Truth and purity. I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear this Truth and to open ourselves for change to take place in Christians who are feeding on the “world” agenda rather than on the “Word” agenda so that they will be ready, strong, and fortified for what’s coming next. I pray for the Church to mend itself, to stand on the Truth of the Word, and to work to properly train and equip its people to bring the light back into the world. Finally, I pray that we all recognize that, despite being the creator of the universe, that God cares deeply for each of us; as stated in Matthew 18:14, that He “is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

We all need to re-examine our actions, beliefs, and words each day. We need to see if the enemy has worked a finger into a crack in our armor or started to sow seeds of discouragement, bitterness, hatefulness, depression, hopelessness, and/or doubt. We need to ask Father to reveal this to us and, if necessary, to burn it out of our hearts so as to ready us to receive His Truth and His will. We must become more discerning of God’s will. But, most importantly, we must remember that God is in complete control and that, therefore, we should not to sell Him short

“Evangelical Christians”

I recently saw a post on Facebook about “those Evangelical Christians in Washington, DC.”  I started to reply, but I ultimately erased it. Still, the whole thing bothered me. That’s because more and more I hear this phrase – “Evangelical Christians” – used liberally on all media, and it’s never used in any kind of a good way. The more I think about it, the more I’m disappointed and distressed by the current use of both the words “Evangelical” and “Christian.” So, I want to address each term separately, but then together to indicate how I feel.

I became disillusioned with the term “Christian” many years ago as I noticed how often people would utter it with disgust. At the time, I had to admit that this particular word came with a lot of baggage. Centuries of “Christian” elitism, laws crafted by Christians dictating the acceptable religions of the day, the Crusades, Manifest Destiny, and other atrocities or otherwise immoral acts perpetrated by groups claiming to be Christians tend to cause a repulsive reaction to a word that people think sums things up. My husband grew up in a neighborhood in which his famous neighbor – a self-proclaimed Christian – used to fly flags and banners saying, “God Hates Fags.” You’ve probably heard of him, and there wasn’t an ounce of love inside of him. Yet, everything he did was done in the name of Christianity.

By the way, the term “Christian” (from Christianos – followers of Christ) appears to have been coined fairly early on as a way to designate this new group and differentiate them from other Jews. It’s first seen in the Acts, and gradually replaced what the Christians themselves preferred to be called, which was “saints,” “brethren” or “disciples.” One researcher has noted that the infrequency of the term “Christian” in the New Testament indicates its non-use then, and has surmised that because the word “Christos” and its ties to anointing meant little to outsiders, those outsiders, instead, settled on calling these people descriptors based on the word “Chrestos,” which meant virtuous, good, or moral, and seemed to be an apt description for the people who so often showed a different sort of moralistic, sanctified behavior. His theory is that as the term Chrestos caught on, often with some scorn and perhaps even as a pun, the followers of Christ felt pressured to adopt and emphasize a more accurate word to reflect who they were and who they were following. This should not take away from the fact that Christians, as a group, have been vilified, often due to the message, but just as often through their own behavior. It also means that we aren’t necessarily wedded to the word.

And the baggage continues to pile up today. I’ve seen my share of “Christians” in the public eye not appearing to live according to the words of the Bible. Indeed, we seemed to have reached a fever pitch with this stuff in the last few decades with so many televangelists falling due to their immoral, hypocritical, and often criminal behavior. At its very basic level, a “Christian” should be one who allows the Holy Spirit to tell them when they’ve done something wrong, willingly asks for forgiveness, and then makes serious amends for his or her mistakes. But there have been so many “Christians” that don’t even appear to follow the general thrust or themes of the Bible that I have discarded the name altogether. In my heart, I know that most Christians are not immoral hypocrites, but even a small percentage of people can do a great deal of damage to a label over hundreds of years. Accordingly, while I’m not ashamed of being a Christian, I tell people outwardly that I’m a “follower of Jesus” or a “follower of Christ.”

And by doing so, I’m not doing anything that Jesus might not also have done. When Jesus was with us in the flesh, he continually denounced the hypocrisy of those in the church. Dr. Stanley D. Toussaint of the Dallas Theological Seminary often said that, “The Lord’s strongest words of invective were not against murderers or thieves or sexually immoral people. His strongest words of invective were against hypocrites.” To Dr. Toussaint, hypocrisy is a sin that affects every single person today, but also a sin that is “particularly loathsome to God.” And yet, despite the clear theme (see, e.g., Matt: 23) we see so much hypocrisy today that we take it for granted. In politics, we’ve grown to expect it.

The bottom line is that lots and lots of people have used (and still use) the term “Christian” to describe themselves, and yet they act in overtly non-biblical ways. This, in turn, causes people to stop even seeking God. And stopping someone from seeking God has got to be one of the worst possible things you can do to someone on this Earth.

In addition to “Christian,” the word “Evangelical” is rapidly evolving into a term having at least the same amount of baggage. And, similarly, I find I need to distance myself from what would ordinarily be – and used to be – a great descriptive word.

According to Websters, the definition of “evangelical” is “of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels.” I once visited the National Association of Evangelical’s website and, in addition to other statements of belief, saw that it said evangelicals are “serious” about the Bible. Unfortunately, I increasingly see people who claim to be evangelicals who are decidedly not serious about the Bible. In fact, and quite unfortunately for me, I consider myself to be an evangelical and so I see lots of social media posts from other so-called evangelicals. And lots of times those posts really upset me. For example, how – and, I’m really serious about this – how in the world can an evangelical post something about God one minute and then turn around and post something showing hatred, judgment, or scorn on someone the next? I actually saw someone post a picture of Jesus and something about love, followed within minutes by a post wanting to kill all “liberal democrats.”

I suppose you can see where this is going. The term “Christian” is a goner for me. It’s got too much baggage and suffers from extreme hypocrisy. I choose the term “follower of Jesus,” because at least then it’s a more direct line toward holding up my behavior to the ultimate moral model. The word “evangelical,” on the other hand, doesn’t have centuries of problems, but it has become a gigantic problem today with so-called evangelicals – people proclaiming to be serious about the Bible – showing so much hypocrisy and politicization that the term itself is almost uniformly uttered with scorn. Again, like Christian hypocrites, evangelical hypocrites do more to harm the Kingdom of God than anything else of which I can think. How do you stop a child from wondering about God and perhaps beginning a search toward finding God? The best way (likely devised by Satan himself) is to show him or her various vocal “Christians” or “Evangelicals” who simply do not follow the Bible. Show the child an “evangelical Christian” who hates people. That’ll do it. I think God hates hypocrisy so much because it keeps people from even beginning the journey that might lead to his Kingdom.

Today, we unfortunately hear the two words together: “Evangelical Christian.” Two perfectly good words – indeed, words that used to fully describe me – ruined by hypocrisy and politics. Whenever you hear them together you can hear the scorn and disgust. And, you can almost assuredly envision some child somewhere saying, “Well, whoever they are, I’m not going to be like them when I grow up.”

Of course the world hates “Christians.” Of course it hates “evangelicals.” Who wouldn’t, given some of the things I’ve seen? But being scorned for hypocrisy is a whole lot different than being scorned for righteousness. Personally, I hate the fact that I can’t even use these two words anymore. Moreover, the world doesn’t hate these labels because all Christians and evangelicals are bad. Nope, the people of the world simply do what is entirely human to do, which is to watch those who identify with the labels most vocally as they behave in a decidedly un-Biblical manner, and then brush off the whole lot. And I don’t blame them. As a one-time evangelical Christian, I’m just sorry about the whole thing.

So, what do we do? Well, in my case I tell people I’m a follower of Jesus and that I have a Biblical worldview. But I do more than that. I now go out of my way to say, “Please realize that I am nothing like those people who claim to be evangelical Christians but who demonstrate hatred, judgment and immorality.  If my introduction to people were in the form of a document, it means that I’ve added a paragraph – an aside – to try to distance myself from a group that I call “political Christians,” a group that, sadly, keeps people from God because it has pushed a world agenda ahead of God. If it weren’t so sad, it would be ironically funny – evangelical Christians, the group who would tell you (these days quite vocally and with some amount of political fervor) that they’re only trying to bring more people to Christ – are actually driving people away from Christ. More and more each day.

Still, there’s always hope for the world and even hope for the most hypocritical and politicized members of our churches. But it means taking a hard look at how far we might have moved away from God. If we hear someone talk about God, and the first thing we think about is the Supreme Court, then we should realize that we need to get back to basics. God is real. Satan is real. God hates hypocrisy. Satan will try to turn you into a hypocrite. It’s a battle for good and evil that we’re losing, and in losing we’re actually dissuading other people from seeking God. And, by the way, if people hear this warning and don’t heed  it, then they shouldn’t be surprised when they’re called to account for willingly turning people away from God for some short-term, often political but always worldly, gain.

Now, of course, hated of the followers of Christ has been foretold, and people will occasionally try to justify their unbiblical actions by claiming that the public’s scorn is just a part of the overall persecution of Christians predicted in the Bible. Even Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” and “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”  (Mark 13:13; Luke 6:22). But – and this is really big – Jesus did not mean, “They’ll hate you when say you follow me but act in a completely opposite, worldly manner.” No, he meant “they’ll hate you for doing exactly what I have told you to do, acting exactly as I have told you to act. And I told you to love God and love others as yourself.”

There will be some who, on their last day, will say, “But, Lord, I’ve been a Christian all of my life. In fact, I’m an Evangelical Christian.” And on that day, the words of Scripture will truly come true, and just has he said he would, Jesus will reply, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

“I never knew you.” (Matt 7:22-23).

Seek God. Follow Christ. Read the Word. Remember the commands. Focus on love for God and others.


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