Category Archives: Understanding Our Times

Articles that lend insight or understanding to our times, the day in which we live, usually in comparison to the Biblical or historical perspective, which will aid one in knowing how to live and act wisely in our day. “Like the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times and what Israel should do.” I Chron 12:32

Christmas 2020

Isaiah the Prophet’s Perspective. Jerusalem . 700 BC

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Micah the Prophet’s Perspective . Moresheth, Judah . 700 BC

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

            Too little to be among the clans of Judah,

            From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.” Micah 5:2

Joseph’s Perspective . Nazareth, Israel . January 3 BC

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” Matthew 1:20-21

Shepherds Perspective . Near Bethlehem, Judah . September 3 BC

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

“The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

Luke 2:20  

Mary’s Perspective . Bethlehem, Judah . September 3 BC

“And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Luke 2:18-19

Simon’s Perspective . Jerusalem, Israel . September 3 BC

“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

Magi Perspective . Jerusalem . December 2 BC

“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him…

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy…

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2: 2,10-11

Your Perspective . In Your Home . 2020

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Two Scepters

We often hear the phrase, “from Genesis to Revelation” to express the broad sweep of men’s experience on earth and God’s plan for the same.

In Genesis we read:

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10

In revelation we read:

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; … And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a scepter of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.” Revelation 12:1-5

This story seems to swirl about a King, righteous and true. And his subjects, who have loved his appearing.

I was inspired to write a poem a few years ago at Christmastime that I read every year reflecting on this King and his story, in worship. It is titled, “Twice a King.”

While worshiping again this year with wide eyes and an open heart, watching “The Star of Bethlehem,” I saw something completely new, like I many times do.

The Scepter

The two scepters in Genesis and Revelation are really one, and belong to the same King. His story is written in the Bible, on countless hearts, and in the stars.

The King of the universe, visits a virgin, who has His Son. His Son becomes the ruling, loving, righteous, rightful, and everlasting King of all mankind. There is lots of romance involved, and an evil opponent, as His beautiful story plays out upon the earth over time. It’s a story that fills the pages of our literature, our history, our very lives. And, it and it is written in the stars.

It’s the same story known to the magi, perhaps through the prophet Daniel, and to the prophet John, who recorded it in the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.

I hope you can take time to watch Rick Larson explain it in detail this Christmas season. You will experience awe, the wonder and joy of Christmas, and a blessing.

The King of heaven symbolized by Regulus the King star, moves toward earth symbolized by Jupiter the king planet, to a conjunction with Venus the queen planet and through the constellation Virgo, the virgin, to give birth to a redeemer prince, a Son, the King of heaven and earth, the everlasting One.

Ponder the majesty and magnitude of one who would write the story on earth and in the heavens, for all to see, for all time.

Bethlehem and the Cross

This “celestial poem” as Larson calls it, is one of “terrible beauty” that gives one pause, and makes one shutter.

I pray He who wrote it in history, and in the stars, will write it on your heart this year if He hasn’t already done so. That’s my Christmas prayer.

Bethlehem and the cross were both necessary to the story and are shown by a clockwork star — from the moment God flung the universe into existence. He knew what he was going to do and marked it in the clockwork, faithful heavens for all who have eyes to see.

Hidden from most, but real, and present.

I pray the beautiful music, artistry, storytelling, and cinematography, of this video will help you see the mystery and truth of this story.

This is my time. This is your time. These are our times.

We know so much. Yet we know so little.

Humble yourself. Look at the stars, especially the Star of Bethlehem.

Then say with the ancient wisemen,

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” Matthew 2:2

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“And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,

Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Acts 2:19-22

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:2,6

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be our peace.”
Micah 5:2,4-5

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” Matthew 1:23

January 6, 2021

Ron, a longtime friend unloaded a bombshell Tuesday morning when our 2020 reading group met. Sitting in the very chair where I’m sitting right now he read to us what could happen January 6, regarding who will be the 46th President of the United States.

Since I don’t watch the news, this was intriguing to me and continues to be as I’ve spent some time researching the matter.

Who knew? The founding fathers had this provision framed into our laws. On January 6, Vice President Pence, a man of character and Christian conviction, will preside over a joint session of Congress to open, present, and have them approve the outcome of the duly elected and appointed electoral college.

In years past this has been a formality, with a few notable exceptions like the Kennedy election of 1960 where there were concerns in Congress about fraud in the Chicago voting.

But this time, contrary to the narrative being projected by the media, if there should be enough evidence of fraud in the voting in key states, evidence which the Republicans say they have, one member of the House and one member of the Senate can motion in writitng that the vote is in question and not valid.

In this event, the vice president overseeing these proceedings as the president of the Senate would instruct both houses of Congress to separate and debate the matter for two hours, then reconvene and decide the matter by vote.

Each state would have only one vote, no matter how densely populated. There are more republican states than democratic states, so if every Republican state represented sees the fraud evidence sufficient and has the courage to vote that way, Donald Trump would likely remain the president of the United States of America.

Shocking! Can you imagine the shock? Of the majority of the population! Who have been told over and over that it’s over and Mr. Biden has won.

I remember two recent presidential elections where the media practically declared the outcome of the election in the weeks and days before — but it went unexplainably the other way? I digress.

So could there be political unrest? Maybe rioting in the streets? I’m sure there might be.

I would suggest that is not the biggest issue, although for many it is. Peace and safety at all cost, is the mantra or guiding position of many. The trouble is, it doesn’t work that way with evil in the world, and evil continues to plague mankind.

Evil is very much like cancer. You want to cut it out early to stop the spread and preserve the life of the whole! Do you not?

Or do you consider surgery too invasive? And the temporary pain and inconvenience too much of a sacrifice, and go on your way, letting it grow and spread? Thinking, “It will probably be all right.”

It’s exactly the same with evil. This is the best analogy I know. If free-will people do not stand up for truth and against evil, then more evil will come more powerfully to their door.

“You can pay me now, or pay me later.” We’ve all heard this about preventive maintenance and facing the truth or reality of a situation. We also know the price of “later” usually is much, much “greater.”

Ask the German people in Hitler and Bonhoeffer’s time. As the Russian people in Stalin and Solzhenitsyn’s time. Ask Israel in pre-Babylon and Isaiah’s time?

Dr. Ben Carson said it well when he was on the campaign trail for president, as he ended many of his speeches. “America will continue to be the land of the free, as long as she is the home of the brave.”

Let us not be like the British before World War II. Churchill was seeing things clearly and pointing out to the people Hitler’s true nature and plans. British Prime Minister Chamberlain at that time went to meet with Hitler and came back with his personal reality saying, “Peace, peace in our time.”

Of course people wanted to hear that. We all do. But the reality of what was about to happen was much different. The people were deluded by themselves and their leader to their own hurt. Many bombs would subsequently fall on London, many buildings would be burned or blown up. Many, many lives would be lost. The world would be plunged into a world war that might have been averted. When war came to England they went looking for Churchill, who saw the reality clearly in the beginning, to lead them through the terrible ordeal which by God’s grace he did.

Reality! Who do we celebrate, the doctor who makes an early, correct diagnosis of cancer, then addresses is the matter? Or the doctor who is casual, maybe inept, too busy with his life to be thorough with yours, or otherwise misses the reality of unhealthy, destructive cells growing in your body?

Truth is important! Reality is important! Seek to know both. Be willing to sacrifice for them. Pray for courage and insight. Then take courage.

The sooner you confront cancer the better off you are, no matter what the treatment looks like. The sooner you confront evil and lies the better off you are no matter what the ramifications look like.

It pleases God. And He will help you.

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings….” Malachi 4:2

What do you want? Righteousness and justice, which the Bible says is the foundation of God’s throne, and which will result in a better and more lasting peace? Or “Peace, peace in our time,” no matter the cost and the future consequences?

Hopefully January 6, 2021, the truth will be known. And then men and women in positions of leadership will act with integrity? Will they act for their own enrichment? Or for the present and future good of the country? Or for “Peace, peace in our time?” God knows.

The stakes seem pretty high for our republic and our way of life. The church and culture seem to be spiraling on a downward path away from God and his ways. One senses this could be an opportunity to slow the slide or reverse it.

There appears to be much evil in our government and it seems to be gaining ground. There are many snares being laid for the righteous. There is much boasting, bribery, and pride. There are many thinking their evil ways are hidden and will not be revealed. But Jesus reminded us that is not how it will work.

“Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Luke 12:3

Historically, these are activities that happen in many cultures and countries. But they have been relatively few and out of sight in our country due to our founding father’s God-honoring roots, and moral population not willing to tolerate such.

These activities also historically have been shown to ignite the corrective actions of the Almighty. God is only unpredictable in the question of “when” and “how” He acts. As far as acting, He is the same yesterday today and forever.

At times it seems like His timetable is more like that of volcanoes, earthquakes, or geologic time. His timing is hard to predict and His judgments patiently delayed at times. He even says that about himself, as a warning to us.

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? Isaiah 57:11

“These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.” Psalm 50:21

But His judgments are true, and all together righteous. Only He has enough insight, wisdom, kindness, righteousness, and might, along with a merciful heart, to judge and act perfectly. He will act in His time.

We should decide what sort of time we think it is? And what our part or course of action should be? Practice justice and what’s right in your own life and realm. And pray for our country and leaders as in fact He instructs us to do.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone— for kings and all those in authority— so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,” I Timothy 2: 1-3

May God have mercy on our country. Christmas peace to you all.

I Have COVID-19

My first interaction with China was in June 2008. I flew a Boeing 777 to Shanghai from Chicago for American Airlines and spent a couple days in the city. I know Shanghai is more western and showy than the rest of China because of its history and interaction with the West. But I will never forget what I saw there; its vibe, its raw economic and technological power.

My second and most recent encounter with China was yesterday. I tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19

I had experienced symptoms for a few days of what I was pretty certain was a common cold, an intermittent wet cough and a mild headache. But I was planning to fly today to a Bible conference and visit some friends in Monroe Louisiana, so I thought it prudent to be tested.

And just like that, the trip was canceled, and I began the prescribed 14-day quarantine from the first day of coughing, along with my beautiful bride who now must also assume she’s contagious, although she’s asymptomatic.

I hope it’s not too much togetherness for her! 🙂 We will try to social distance in the house, using different bedrooms and bathrooms, practice excessive hand washing, and wearing masks if we need to be closer than six feet. But our daughter who is a MD says she is likely to get it anyway. I don’t know many people personally who have contracted COVID-19, less than ten I think, but in every case except one where there was a couple involved, they both got it.

I hope and pray if she gets it, her symptoms will be mild like mine. 99% of the cases reportedly are. The mystery and variety of the 1% is what’s troubling.

The biggest pain for us is the restriction of freedom. Not going out to eat, to shop, to run errands, etc. But we will make the best of it. Lots of reading, writing and journaling for me — that’s not a big change. It will be harder for her.

As someone said early in the pandemic, their baseboards have never been so clean. Those of you who know my wife know they’re already clean. I’ll probably have to get them re-painted after this!

Our kids called last night concerned, but also pointing out this could be a good thing and good timing going into the holidays, as we’ll be immune and not worried about getting it or giving it to others! 🙂

China

A bird just flew into our windows with a thud. Then it flew away in a bit of shock, confusion and with a headache, if birds get headaches?

I guess that’s what having COVID-19 myself means for me spiritually? I feel like I’m awake spiritually, and walking in light, His light. But how does one really know? Deception has the intrinsic quality that if you are deceived — you don’t know it.

But that bird knows it now! Whatever he or she saw enticing or encouraging full speed flight into our window was a mistake. It was caused by an illusion, a wrong perception, not seeing things as they really are.

China — A Piece of the Puzzle

My COVID-19 story has gotten long, so my China musings will be brief. They will serve as an introduction for you possibly of what has recently come onto my personal radar.

A few weeks ago a retired CEO in our 2020 book club and men’s group told us about a secular book he was reading about China. The author is an intellectual, a think tank person, but one who has advised several US presidents on foreign policy and international affairs.

I have not read the book yet, but I will. As our CEO friend shared from his notes and then a summary, it became clear that political China is an enemy of the United States of America. Also that they are probably already the world’s leading economic power, and on a course to be the world’s leading military power. The author, for reasons I won’t go into at this juncture, sees a future war with China as probable if not in inevitable.

I’m coming to see that China may be to us what ancient Babylon was to Judah before 586 BC — on the rise. A tiger. A dragon. Read Habakkuk, as he asks the Lord about what he was seeing in Babylon and Judah, and what would be the outcome of it all?

Ask Yourself

Ask yourself, “Why did China suspend all flights from Wuhan into China while releasing flights into the rest of the world?”

I’ll build my case later for this. But I see China as a major piece of the puzzle for life in the U.S. and on the planet in the next chapter, even in this present darkness.

They are to us a formidable enemy on the rise like Babylon was to Judah before 586 BC. It depends on the prayers and repentance of the church when and whether they come.

Either way one can read Habakkuk and see the Lord’s discussion with the prophet as how it might play out. And more importantly how a true believer will act and regard these times and those times, if it happens the way I’m describing.

Two Streams

To complicate the matter, although it’s not complicated to the Lord, almost certainly the largest and healthiest church in the world is the underground church in China. Its size is estimated about the same as the US population currently. They are our kingdom brothers and sisters in the true faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So while they are our true friends, their government is our true enemy. The situation merits watching, just like watching Israel .

You may recall Jesus told us to be alert for the signs that point to the end of the age, or the latter days, and his return.

Israel has always been one of those signs and will always be, because of God’s promises to them and to the nations who treat them well or treat them poorly.

I’ve often thought China would loom large and be a major player in the end time events. Now there is much evidence this is the case. And the time could be now, in the coming decades, maybe even in just a few years?

More on this later but let me point you to a few books and publications that point to the truth and evidence of what I’m suggesting.

The book my friend read: Destined for War by Graham Allison

A recent Hillsdale College article on China: Imprimis Sepember 2020 “Facing Up to the China Threat

About the underground church in China: The Heavenly Man Brother Yun

Also about Christian life in China’s underground church: Bold as a Lamb Ken Anderson The Story of Samuel Lamb

My Advice & My Personal Tact

Stay awake. Stay alert. Stay close.

Abide in the vineyard. Stay close to the Master. Be like Habakkuk at the end of his book. The Lord bless and keep you. The Lord turn his face toward you and be gracious to you. The Lord cause his countenance to shine upon you and give you peace. Amen [Numbers 6:24-26]

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O LORD, I have heard the report of You; I stand in awe, O LORD, of Your deeds. Revive them in these years; make them known in these years. In Your wrath, remember mercy!” Hab 3:3

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
” Hab 3:17-19

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you….
” Psalm 91:1-3a

Do We Have a President?

It might appear that the election for our president is over. It might be said the Lord’s decision in the matter is final? But where the Lord of creation, the mighty God, is concerned, it’s not over till it’s over, maybe even after it’s over? Remember Lazarus?

If there was any skulduggery, impropriety, corruption in the election process, I pray it be shown. If there is any legal challenge to the results, I pray the laws of the land prevail. We are still a nation of laws despite the corruption and abuse of the present generation.

That said, I am aware that Mr. Biden received, I believe The New York Times reported, four million or so more popular votes than did President Trump. And of course they clamor for doing away with the electoral college, thinking they have more wisdom than the Founding Fathers. I predict history will show, and indeed has shown, they do not. We wouldn’t have wanted to miss the crisis leadership of Abraham Lincoln, would we?

Anyway the people have voted in record numbers and asked for a certain king. It’s still my prayer that God will give us by some means known to him, legally of course, the best leader for our nation at such a time as this. And show His mercy in this way.

If that turns out to be Mr. Biden, perhaps succeeded by his running mate, “May the Lord do what seems good to him,” as Eli prayed.

I would suggest to Christians, if you can’t pray that way, perhaps you don’t know the goodness of our Lord nor his power. Sometimes the way up is down. He knows. A quick glance at the cross and the Roman empire would show us that.

Also if the election is where you placed all your hope for the future — the political system and our government may mean too much to you? And the kingdom of God with its present and eternal King too little? (Psalm 2)

Anyway, the real question is, “What will you do today, and the rest of your days?” The same question was posed by Joshua to a similar people, in a time similar to ours, with similar things at stake. Joshua said it this way, “Choose you this day whom you will serve… But as for me in my house, we will serve the Lord.”

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

A friend of mine, a dentist, once said in a sermon from his church’s pulpit, “Only two days matter; this day and that day.” Choose wisely, and by His grace. Amen.

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” By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just.” Proverbs 8:15

“No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”
Psalm 75:6-7

“So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.” I Samuel 3:18

We Wait…

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I have a good friend who started sending out a morning Scripture and missive five years ago or more. Today’s seemed to really fit for believers, so I share it with permission (bolding mine). Thanks Dwayne Russell.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Set your hope fully on Him!!!
There is a lot of craziness, lots disorder all around but Jesus is not moved from His position. We are still called to occupy till He comes. That day may be sooner than we think. We have to be willing to suffer as our Savior did. It may get harder before He comes, but one thing I know He is faithful and we can trust Him with our tomorrows.”

And today’s verse of the day from YouVersion seemed to be an excellent reminder considering our days and today. His blessings to you and yours!

“For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Vote! & Devote!

Good morning! As I arise at the cabin before sun up and see the breaking of dawn on the horizon, I am reminded that God is faithful — the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s in Him I put my trust, and not in any man or political system.

That said, He has ordained and given us our unique political system and government for His purposes and to serve us. Today is an important day in which we get to select our leader for the next four years. Please exercise your constitutional privilege, your civic duty and VOTE!

Yesterday’s blog mentioned two things that seem to be at the forefront of this election for Christians; platform and character. Both are important, but in this election I said the platform or issues loomed much larger than character, and I spoke to the issues. They are so starkly different that any Christian should see that to vote one way is to choose secular humanism or man’s rule in the totality of life, and to vote the other way would be to choose God, His ways and His rule in our national life.

CHARACTER

But I said I would address the character issue and I will. First I will give you my short, simple version. Then quickly I will defer to an article a friend sent me yesterday by Wayne Grudem who discusses the same issue. I consider Wayne Grudem one of the best theologians and Bible scholars alive today. And he certainly hits this nail on the head, discussing the character issue in depth.

DWAYNE’S THOUGHTS

That we should be voting today between two men with low morals, according to the media and the campaign ads, says more about our country and ourselves, than it does about the candidates perhaps. So I would suggest a look inward, and upward, asking the Divine for help in righting our moral ship with His Trustworthy Compass.

But decide we must.

If one is in the business of throwing stones, both candidates loom large as targets. And their lives have been put under a media microscope, perhaps one more than the other. The critics of one point to pride and past sexual misconduct. The critics of the other point to bribes and corruption evidence, as well as someone who frequently says one thing and does another, or changes what he says about an issue depending on the audience .

I’m going to give my nod to President Trump as having the best character of the two. A man who has done what he said he would do when he ran four years ago and since he took office. Speaking the truth, and keeping your word to me are very important signs of underlying character.

And again, God is the ultimate judge of character and actions, not me, not you. We just have to look at our options and vote.

WAYNE’S THOUGHTS

Wayne Grudem’s thoughts are through, well thought out, and conveyed, typical of writers, scholars, and theologians. I’m only going to quote a few thoughts here that seem the most apropos to the issue and provide you the link. He writes (Bolding mine.):

“A candidate’s character and policies are both important to consider before voting. And I would agree that there are some character flaws so serious that they would by themselves disqualify a candidate (such as an avowed racist). But in most elections, and with most candidates, we have to choose between two rather ordinary human beings, both of whom have flaws. In that case, an evaluation of their policies becomes decisive. And that is the case in this election.”

“Here is the point at which people will make different political judgments, because human beings are extremely complex, and therefore an accurate assessment of a person’s character is difficult. It certainly should not be done quickly on the basis of small snippets of information. And complicating the task is the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:20), so every human being has flaws that others can criticize.

Piper speaks of Trump’s character in entirely negative terms. Because of unbelievably hostile reporting in the mainstream press, other people can see no good character traits at all in President Trump. My assessment is different, and I think it is more balanced. I wrote this in 2016 and it still applies: 

“’He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas…that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him…He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.’”

“On the other hand, I think some of the accusations hurled against him are unjustified. His many years of business conduct show that he is not racist or anti-(legal) immigrant or anti-Semitic or misogynistic – I think these are unjust magnifications by a hostile press exaggerating some careless statements he has made. I think he is deeply patriotic and sincerely wants the best for the country. He has been an unusually successful problem solver in business. He has raised remarkable children. Many who have known him personally speak highly of his kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity.”

“And now, after his nearly four years in office, I would add that he has shown remarkable courage of his convictions, faithfulness to his campaign promises, steadfastness of purpose in spite of an astoundingly hostile press, incredible energy in the performance of his job, dignity and even eloquence in many formal speeches and ceremonies at home and abroad, respect and appreciation for his wife Melania and his sons and daughters, and a wide-ranging understanding of the hundreds of different issues that every president faces. In contrast to his past life, during his term in office there is not been even a hint of any sexual impropriety. He is sometimes boastful but on a number of occasions I have seen him publicly give credit to many other people for things that have been accomplished. And I think he has shown mature and wise judgment in a variety of situations that he has faced as president.”

“With Trump, we will get good policies and character flaws, but with Biden we will get bad policies and character flaws.”

“It is easy to compare President Trump with a hypothetical “perfect” president and to conclude that he falls short, but that is not our choice. If Trump is not reelected, we will have President Biden, with an entirely different set of character flaws. The multiple allegations that Vice President Biden used his government office and influence to enrich members of his own family with millions of dollars from China, Russia, and Ukraine should be of deep concern, because using government power to enrich one’s own family is the consistent characteristic of corrupt leaders in many countries of the world.”

And lastly:

“The Trump administration has brought to prominence many leaders with exemplary lives.”

“Donald Trump is not the only person we are voting for. It is remarkable that the Trump administration has elevated so many self-professing evangelical Christians – far more than any in my lifetime – into positions of high influence in our government. They also provide role models for Americans. To vote for Trump as president is also to vote for Mike Pence as vice president, Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Russell Vought as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and numerous others. In addition, Trump has appointed numerous deeply committed Roman Catholics to various positions, the most recent being Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The character of these leaders is also a role model for the nation.”

I hope you have found this discussion helpful. And that you will vote… wisely. For your own well being, as well as that of our children, and our grandchildren. America is in a moral free fall it seems, the kind that has produced collapse and judgment in the past, and this election will not fix that problem. Only the God that gave us life, and this nation birth, can do that. And He’s willing to help. But the outcome of this election will be a big step in one direction or the other. In letting Him know what we want. And showing us what we’re asking for?

May God give you wisdom, and peace, as you consider the options, and VOTE!


“Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.” I Kings 8:61

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;”Col 4:2

“This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” I Cor 7:35

VOTE TOMORROW

I’m working on a book about the puzzles of COVID and our times — in the church and in the culture. I had a dream of getting it finished before the 2020 Presidential election tomorrow. It was a dream when I had the thought, and it’s clearly not going to happen. But I intend to include these thoughts anyway when I do publish. It will date the book and tie it’s genesis to this time and this season in our country’s history but that’s fine. It’s actually very apropos to the theme of the book.

The puzzle of this election even being close, and it promises to be so, exposes a cloud of deception over our churches and our country. Deception is puzzling isn’t it? How do people, a large group of intelligent people come to believe completely opposite things or positions? Even among close friends and close family members? Many times both calling themselves Christians. Puzzling? Especially when these positions are so clearly different — practically opposite!

I write to Christians, people who believe the Bible, people who know and fear God. But truth is truth for every human just as it is for every Christian. I want to write with “gentleness and respect” as Christians are instructed to do. (I Peter 3:15) And with humility of course, but honestly I don’t get it — how a disciple of Christ, one who reads and believes the Bible, one who fears God in a healthy way could choose to vote left in this election? Puzzling indeed!

But God certainly honors our free wills, so certainly I should, and I will.

I just want to state my voting position and how I came to it.

Character

This election and the last were so very simple to me. Which candidate has the best character? By their fruits you shall know them. Not by what they say, but by what they do. Jesus taught us this truth. I know that’s hotly debated, and I don’t want this to get long, so I will discuss that in tomorrow’s blog.

Platform

The LORD judges people, peoples, and nations according to His Word, the Bible. Read Psalm 2. It’s demonstrated and repeated throughout the Bible. Wise men and women aplenty have seen it in history too and become seers and leaders in their crucial times, e.g. Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc.

Which platform or agenda shows more deference, honor, and respect for God and His ways? That’s the one to vote for each and every time if you value His blessings and your well being. That’s what the Bible says.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” Ps 33:12

Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

[1] One side is pro life and against abortion. (Ez 7:23, Has 4:2, Lev 18:21)
[2] One side supports Israel while the other doesn’t (Gen 12:3)

Those two issues alone are enough for me to see a clear voting decision. But there are more.

[3] One supports Biblical traditional marriage while the other doesn’t
[4] One supports Religious freedom (not suing bakers or t-shirt makers for matters of conscience) (The First Amendment — Freedom of Religion and Speech) (Why the Pilgrims came to America in the beginning.)
[5] One supports Economic freedom (reducing taxes and regulations to promote innovation and create jobs — the thinking of our founding fathers in America )

These have been in line with Christian thinking for nineteen centuries throughout the history of the church.

These line up with the Bible, and thus with the thinking of our Creator and Judge. The acceptance or rejection of them have strong future consequences as they have had strong historical consequences. Choose wisely. And may God bless and keep you. And may God have mercy and extend His hand of grace to our nation.

Don’t Lose Heart

Besides the prayer scene from the Apocalypse recorded in Revelation 8:1-5, what else do you need to encourage you to pray? Maybe Jesus’ example?

Jesus’ practice was to go be alone with the Father and pray. The disciples saw how it changed Him or affected Him, and said to Him, “Teach us to pray.” He gave them a model prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”

And he told them a parable about prayer—about a poor widow crying out to a wicked judge, who granted her request because of persistence, so they “would always pray, and not lose heart.”

Notice Jesus prayer “for deliverance” and “of submission” in the garden with his sleeping friends. Notice his prayer to Father before raising Lazarus from the dead. Notice his prayer of thanksgiving upon the return of the seventy disciples and their reports of spiritual exploits and spiritual authority poured out on them.

Note Jesus in prayer. Follow his examples. Follow his lead.

Note when he prayed prayers of mercy for the likes of us, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Notice when he answered prayers for mercy like those of blind Bartimaeus in Jericho, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:46-52)

This is a skill you learn by practice as you go your way; it’s an art form; it’s a simple heart cry. It’s individual to you. It’s not complicated.

But it’s done! It must be prayed. That’s the main thing. Often and much. It demonstrates humility and worship. It fosters relationship and knowing the King – to Whom you pray — and Him knowing you.

You can almost hear Jesus as He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.”

So pray! It pleases him. He delights in the prayers of his people, the upright.

It’s the most important communication in your earth experience, to know and be known — by Him.

I’m quite certain prayer is an important piece of the 2020 puzzle. Prayerlessness is in large measure what got us into this present darkness. Prayer will be key to getting us out! Certainly personally, and also for our families, our friends, our churches, and perhaps our nation.

Don’t lose heart!

Pray!


“He does what’s best for those who fear him—
    hears them call out, and saves them.” Psalm 145:19 MSG

The Blessing” from a good God, Who hears and answers prayer…

Teach Us To Pray!

Prayer is a piece of the puzzle. Would you agree? Read Revelation 8:1-5 — what does this tell us about prayer? Is this some sort of mystical image or an actual, ongoing event? Something that really happens moment by moment, day by day, that affects things in heaven and on earth? In our lives and the lives of the people we love?

Tomorrow our 2020 reading, friendship group starts our look into prayer.

It’s purpose and practice? How it works? How and why it pleases God? How to approach it and affect changes in our circumstances. How to expect and experience those effects.

I’m expecting new revelation about prayer — its power and efficacy. And I am expecting newly experiential intimacy with our Lord, Maker, Master, Creator, Father, Friend.

Prayer is the spiritual discipline in which I’m personally the weakest, that I understand the least. It’s also possibly the one that matters most to joyful and victorious life and living!

I’m praying for a new insight into its power and practice. That seems to be a good and humble place to begin.

It appears the Holy Spirit has led us to two simple books to read about prayer and ponder as He provides revelation, insight, and grace for the moment, to apprehend this portal into the heavenlies, into the actual throne room, for his purposes and our pleasure, our good. And the good of those around us.

The first book is “Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer,” by Max Lucado. The second is “Talking with my Father: Jesus Teaches on Prayer,” by Ray Stedman.

Feel free to get copies and read along with us, asking the Spirit to open all our eyes and hearts to the practice, purpose, and Person of our prayer.

His grace to you. Amen

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“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 NASB