A Virginia pastor prayed for Trump — Here’s what the backlash tells us about the church

June 7, 2019 By Daniel Ritchie

By now, many of us have seen and heard about what played out during the 1 p.m. worship service at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. last Sunday.

For those who may be unfamiliar, here’s the short of it: President Trump played a round of golf at Trump National Golf Course in Sterling, VA. After finishing his golf outing, the president decided to stop by Mclean Bible Church — one of the largest evangelical churches in the D.C. Metro area — to visit with Pastor David Platt and to pray for the victims and community of Virginia Beach.

CHRISTIANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY CALL ON FAITH LEADERS TO PRAY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP

McLean Bible Church and Platt had little notice of the visit. In fact, Platt had just finished his sermon and had stepped backstage for a few moments to prepare for the church to take the Lord’s Supper.

It was in those quiet few moments that he found out that the president of the United States was just minutes away from being at the church.

Dr. Platt was faced with a tough decision. He in no way wanted to endorse the president, his party or his policies as a man who is responsible to shepherd God’s church. Yet, he also did not want to bypass an opportunity to pray for one of the most prominent men on the planet.

In those moments of internal wrestling, a passage from 2 Timothy 1 came to his mind:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

As he reflected on this text, Platt knew the best thing to do was to pray for the president, which is exactly what he did. He clearly presented the Gospel to the president both backstage and in the prayer.

He prayed that God would give Mr. Trump wisdom, grace, and mercy. He prayed that the president would know of God’s promised love for him. He prayed that President Trump would lead and make decisions with justice and equity for all in mind.

With that, the prayer ended and Mr. Trump stepped off the stage without making any public remarks.

And with that, the backlash began.

Many people were hurt because he brought a public official into the pulpit of his church. The criticism was strong enough that he penned a letter to his church in which he explained the Gospel-centered “why” behind his decision to bring the President on stage.

There were others, like Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who criticized Platt for writing that letter; Falwell deemed it as a cowardly apology and attacked Platt’s male fortitude.

The backlash has left one apparent truth in its wake: there’s a worldview problem in the church.

Scripture describes that when someone trusts Jesus as Lord, they are a new person. They begin to have new tastes, new affections and a new way to see the world. They do not view things as they always have; they now view everything that they take in on a daily basis through the lens of Scripture. Through the lens of God’s grace-giving Gospel.

There are some, plainly evidenced in this situation, that view Gospel truths through a political lens first. But that is not how the church needs to view the world. We have to view every situation through a Gospel lens.

As we begin to process realities like Platt’s prayer or the pro-life debate or even voting itself through a political lens first and foremost, then we lack a true biblical worldview.

If our first response to political deliberation and conversation is, “How would my political party perceive this?” then we have a functional political idol.

For the Christian, politics as the fundamental way to view the world is destined for failure and strife. The Gospel and Scripture ought to be the funnel that we pour everything through. The things we learn, what we talk about, how we vote and even how we parent are meant to be seen through the lens of the Gospel. We see everything through a Scripture-shaped lens first and that is what a Christian worldview looks like.

As we view the world through a Gospel lens, we begin to see where our allegiance needs to be: God first in all things. Much as was the heart of Platt’s prayer that we would: “aim for God’s glory, align with God’s purpose, and yield to God’s sovereignty.”

In every thought. In every conversation. In every debate. Let that be the way we see the world.

 

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We May Need to Undergo Some Tests

June 2, 2019 by Joe Rodriguez

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This is the Fire Island Lighthouse. It is an active beacon located on a barrier island off the southern coast of Long Island, New York. The original tower was built in 1826 and stood 74 ft. tall. It was replaced in 1957 with the present tower which measures 168 ft. There is an interesting history behind this lighthouse. Perhaps you will read about it in another devotion in the near future. This post, however, was inspired by an article I came across on a local town website just two days ago. It stated that beginning the first week in June, the lighthouse will undergo a series of tests on the exterior coating to better understand how the building performs structurally and to determine the cause of ongoing problems, including high moisture within the facility, and deterioration of the outer face of brick and shotcrete coating. For this reason, the tower will be closed for a few weeks to ensure visitor safety while the scaffolding and swing staging is in use.

After having my writer’s muse awakened by this article and typing the first few sentences above, I told my wife I wanted to visit this lighthouse before it became inaccessible. After all, it’s not only the subject of this devotion but it is located just an hour and a half drive east from our house. So, we did!

Fire Island Lighthouse, Fire Island, NY. – June 1, 2019

No matter how grounded we may be in God’s word or how spiritually mature we may become throughout the years, there is always a chance that we will succumb to the pressures of living in a morally fallen world. And depending on where we live/work, our degree of involvement in ministry, our physical condition, and/or the influence of the society (politics, culture, media) around us, some of us will experience more of the inevitable troubles Jesus warned us about (John 16:33) than others. Nevertheless, when faced with worldly challenges, we ALL run the risk of developing spiritual fatigue which can actually affect us both physically and mentally.

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We all know the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly. And even if we are unable to perform physical workouts, we know that commitment to balanced diets, certain medications, and regular checkups greatly help treat many of the normal and inevitable consequences of aging/genetics. However, we don’t all take this seriously enough to make the necessary changes. So, we gradually suffer the consequences of what could have been prevented by making wise and practical decisions. Likewise, we all know the importance of praying, reading and applying God’s word, worship, and fellowship. Or do we? Yet, we are not all willing to endure the sacrifice it may call for. So, we gradually also suffer the consequences of reaping what we sow.

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When we develop and stay committed to a healthy spiritual lifestyle we can rest assured that we will be better equipped to endure the inevitable setbacks that come along with living a devoted Christian life. Such a lifestyle includes occasionally connecting with God-fearing family members, friends, and leaders for accountability and godly advice. It is when we neglect godly disciplines that our spiritual immune system begins to deteriorate and it becomes evident in our demeanor. And just like the Fire Island Lighthouse, we may need to undergo a series of Holy Spirit-led tests to address the cause of our lax and feeble attitudes, which many a time manifest themselves in the form of apathy.

My visit to the Fire Island Lighthouse was, like all other lighthouse visits, a truly gratifying and inspiring experience. Seeing it from a distance prompted a renewed focus on the importance of standing strong in order to effectively shine the light of Christ. However, as I climbed the 191 steps to reach the lantern room and noticed the deteriorating brick walls first hand, I was also challenged to focus on having regular spiritual checkups in order to avoid deterioration and possible collapse [Read In Danger of Collapse]. Fortunately for this beacon, it will soon go through some extensive structural examinations and receive the necessary care to restore and strengthen it from the inside out.

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So, I find myself now praying, “Lord search my heart. Examine my motives, will, and desires. Let them align with your word. Renew my passion for you, your word, the church, and the world. Restore me from the inside out!” Perhaps its time for you too to undergo some spiritual tests. Allow the Spirit of God to examine, diagnose, and administer the necessary treatment.

Prayer: Lord, renew my mind and my heart. If I am found wanting, please reveal whatever is hindering me from growing spiritually and being an effective witness. Help me to faithfully follow whatever you prescribe so that I may remain strong in you and continue to shine the light of your salvation. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

RELATED SCRIPTURES
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)

-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

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Dancing with Devils

By Timothy Buchanan – May 31, 2019

Baseless criticisms foisted upon the Church are cyclic. They repeatedly appear, are confronted and debunked by one generation, only to reappear in a future generation. Some of these, like the wholesale condemnation of the Crusades, recur primarily as the result of historical ignorance by Christ-hating heretics and skeptics. Others, like the lie that “religion is responsible for more wars than any other cause,” are kept alive in part, by professors of the Christian faith who attempt to appease corrupt hearts and minds.

In our age of anti-truth, facts are ineffective in contending with the lies parroted by those whose view of reality is merely subjective. Nothing short of a personal encounter with the Divine will affect them. It’s a frightening situation that portends escalating violence and unfathomable wickedness for all involved.

Human history is replete with demonstrable proof that when man becomes the arbiter of morality, unspeakable carnage and suffering are the certain outcome. The hundreds of millions of murders and torturous deaths perpetrated by communist and socialist regimes in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America profoundly illustrate the consequence of human arrogance.

Statisticians can debate the body counts racked up by monstrous butchers: Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and American abortionists, but the numbers are so enormous that any comparison between them and the thousands of tragic deaths caused by the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch trials, are silly and absurd. The God-rejecting man is supremely dangerous and miserable.

Now, the resurgent charge that “the Church is full of hypocrites” is being revived. Short-sighted pastors and teachers frequently attempt to befriend the lawless through self-flagellation. It always fails terribly. One of the best responses to the ludicrous accusation of hypocrisy in the Church, comes from Dr. Michael Youssef, who simply says, “Yes, and we have room for one more.”

The fact is that hypocrisy is most rampant—not in the Church but in our godless evil culture. After all, one who sets a high goal for himself or herself and occasionally fails to reach it, is no hypocrite. He is a hypocrite who claims to be sufficiently noble to judge the righteous, while rejecting defined moral principles. She is a hypocrite who aborts her child, and then screams about human rights. They are hypocrites who celebrate every form of sexual degradation while professing to care about children’s futures.

No righteous authority can exist apart from the absolute and unchanging standard of morality supplied by the Creator. As respect for the standard declines, the godless will always supplant timeless moral law with a personal subjective counterfeit that appeals to his or her capricious feelings.

The human eye cannot detect darkness unless there be a contrasting light. In like manner, people who keep large numbers of dogs are oblivious to barking noise and those who live with many cats disregard the odor of litter boxes. But their visitors are repulsed. Thus, worldlings cannot see their own hypocrisy because they have become accustomed to the moral sewer in which they dwell.

The truth is that the unbelieving secular culture is infinitely wicked and hypocritical. The Christian Church has civilized a barbaric world without resorting to the tyranny often employed in other cultures. Christian values provided the freedoms that Americans enjoy, abuse, and routinely take for granted.

Pastors and teachers who forfeit moral ground for the sake of a friendship, or, in a misguided effort to demonstrate love for the lost, are dancing with devils. And the dance always ends the same way, in stumbling confusion, loss, and a little bit of death.

Are sins, unfaithfulness, and heresies commonplace in churches today? Of course they are. But churches are purified by straining out the polluting influences of sin, by regular washing with truth, and by the disinfecting power of God’s Holy Spirit. These are tasks that many, it seems, would prefer to avoid.

It would be unthinkable to close a hospital simply because a few patients could not be saved. How much more absurd to condemn the Church—which holds the keys to eternal life—in order to garner the acclaim of the dead and dying? Perhaps it’s worth considering whether denying the Bride of Christ is not tantamount to denying Christ Himself.

 

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When Revival Swept Hawaii

A decade after the first missionaries arrived, the gospel tore across the islands in the 1830s.
CHRIS COOK

When Revival Swept Hawaii

Today we picture the Hawaiian Islands as a premier tropical vacation destination. Nearly 200 years ago, that same idyllic island landscape boasted a revival, out of which grew the largest Protestant congregation in the world of that time.

Before 1820, the Hawaiian Islands had never encountered widespread Christianity. But that was about to change. As the Second Great Awakening traveled around the United States, it also spread outside its borders, sparking the New England missionary companies that arrived in the Sandwich Islands, which today are called Hawaii, in the 1820s and 1830s. Hiram Bingham led the inaugural mission’s team that arrived in 1820. Fellow New Englander Titus Coan, who landed in Hawaii in 1834, built on the foundation that Bingham’s generation had established, his work catalyzing the Great Revival of 1836–1840. The effect of this movement proved so significant that within a generation, the ruler of Hawaii declared his kingdom a Christian nation.

A New England Upbringing

Titus Coan was born in 1801 to pious parents, into a family of seven children during at an outbreak of revivals in New England known today as the Second Great Awakening. The son of a Connecticut farmer, Coan grew up working alongside his father, before serving in the militia after the War of 1812.

Upon his return home from the military, Coan attended revival meetings led by evangelist Asahel Nettleton, who was his cousin. Coan later wrote about the experience, “I returned just in time to see 110 of my companions and neighbors stand up in the sanctuary and confess the Lord Jehovah to be their Lord and Saviour.”

After moving to Western New York to join four of his brothers, Coan took a teaching job and in 1826, met his future wife, Fidelia Church. Within a couple of years, Coan began working at his cousin’s former school. Shortly thereafter, a revival broke out on campus, with “many of my pupils hopefully born again.” This school term “was the turning point, the day of decision” for Coan; he had felt the call of God to seek direction for “where to go and what to do.”

From there, Coan’s ministry trajectory took off. In 1830, he began studying with and ministering alongside a pastor in Western New York where an “interesting work of grace was in progress.” Coan spent that summer “laboring in the revival; sometimes meeting the Rev. Charles Finney.”

In 1831, he entered the Auburn Theological Seminary in Central New York, graduated two years later, and was shortly thereafter ordained as a missionary by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In August 1833, he boarded a ship heading for the wilds of Patagonia on an exploratory mission for the American Board.

In 1834, Coan returned and married Fidelia Church at Park Street Church, the same congregation where Hiram Bingham had wed his wife 15 years before. Like Bingham, the wedding came only several weeks before the couple departed for Hawaii. The Coans sailed with few possessions, knowing little about the islands but holding great hope for their mission.

The Hilo Church Multiplies

It took seven months for the Coans to arrive in Honolulu in June 1835. Mission families greeted them at the Honolulu wharf and escorted them a half mile mauka (inland) to the home of Hiram Bingham. “We regard these veteran toilers with a feeling of veneration,” Titus later recalled. By 1835, the Hawaiian ports of Honolulu and Lahaina served as a crossroads in the mid-Pacific, hosting a fleet of Yankee whalers. Visits by European and British merchant ships and frigates were common in an era when European powers sought to colonize the South Pacific.

The couple only briefly stayed in Honolulu before arriving in Hilo on July 21. “Hundreds of laughing natives thronged the beach, seized our hands, gave us the hearty Aloha and followed us up to the house of our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lyman …” Only a handful of foreign residents from the United States and elsewhere then lived there, two of them David and Sarah Lyman, who had arrived at the Hilo station in 1833. After a season teaching children at Hilo and himself being tutored in Hawaiian by a church member named Barnabas, Coan was able to preach in the native language. He and David agreed to a partnership: David would oversee the station staying in Hilo and develop a vocational school for native Hawaiian boys, while Coan would tour their district as an itinerant evangelist.

Now known as Koana, Coan embarked on a trip to spread the gospel across the island. The journey was not easy. “For many years after our arrival there were no roads, no bridges, and no horses in Hilo, and all my tours were made on foot,” Coan journaled. He often walked along narrow, winding trails, climbing up and down steep volcanic hills, crossing streams often flowing torrentially due to the rainy windward climate.

Despite the physical difficulties, Coan was encouraged by evidence of the beginnings of a spiritual awakening. “Now they rallied in masses, were eager to hear the word.” Soon houses he visited were filled to overflowing and protracted meetings went on late into the night. When he reached a settlement in Puna, a southeastern region of the Big Island, “Multitudes came out to hear the Gospel. The blind were led; the maimed, the aged and the decrepit, and many invalids were brought on the backs of their friends. There was great joy and weeping in the assembly.”

Among those also in attendance were a brother and sister. Known as the High Priest and High Priestess of the Kilauea Volcano, the couple murdered travelers passing the volcano unwilling to turn over goods. But at the service, they experienced a heart change. The priestess yielded to a “higher Power … and with her brother became a docile member of the church.”

Back in Hilo, the Haili church had as few as 23 members in 1836. But it soon became a hub for the growing revival. “Soon scores and hundreds who heard the Gospel in Kau, Puna, and Hilo, came into the town to hear more. During the years of 1837 and 1838, Hilo was crowded with strangers; whole families and whole villages in the country were left, with the exception of a few of the old people.” The thatched Haili church, 200 feet long and 85 feet wide, “was crowded almost to suffocation while hundreds remained outside. … The sea of faces, all hushed except when sighs and sobs burst out here and there, was a scene to melt the heart.” Coan noted, “My precious wife, whose soul was melted with love and longings for the weeping natives, felt that no doubt it was the work of the Spirit.”

Physical manifestations added to the dramatic scene. “The word fell with power, and sometimes as the feeling deepened, the vast audience was moved and swayed like a forest in a mighty wind. The word became like the ‘fire and the hammer’ of the Almighty. … Hopeful converts were multiplied and there was great joy in the city.”

Seeing the great need for more church space, several thousand native Hawaiians, men and women, labored for three weeks and built a second thatched church, one that held a congregation of 2,000.

“But God visited the people in judgement as well as in mercy,” Titus remembered, recalling a tsunami that ravaged the Hilo church on the evening of November 7, 1837.

During evening prayers, the earth shook mightily, a sound “like the wail of doom” came forth from along the coast of Hilo. “I immediately ran down to the sea, where a scene of wild ruin was spread out before me.” A giant tsunami wave had destroyed the coastal settlement. About 200 people struggled for their lives in the tsunami wave whirlpool. Wave after wave struck. Parents called for lost ones.

“This event, falling as it did like a bolt of thunder from a clear sky, greatly impressed the people. It was as the voice of God speaking to them out of heaven, ‘Be ye also ready.’”

Despite the death toll, the tsunami seemingly sparked the revival to new levels. “Our meetings were more and more crowded, and hopeful converts were multiplied,” wrote Coan.

A native Hawaiian named Paaoao provided a first-hand account from a school in Hilo at the height of the Great Revival. In a letter published on July 4, 1838, in the Hawaiian-language newspaper Ke Kumu Hawaii, Paaoao wrote, “The Lord’s work here in Hilo is astonishing. The Holy Spirit has descended here. I have never before seen this amazing activity. … The Lord’s conversion of male and female children is marvelous.”

Soon the revival burst out of Hilo with remarkable results across the Hawaiian Islands.

Beyond the Big Island

The revival spread across the Hawaiian Islands. In Kailua, Kona Artemis Bishop reported, “Our congregation has increased to about four times its former number. About 1,000 was the former number of hearers. We have now, perhaps, about four thousand on the Sabbath morning.”

Missionary Richard Armstrong observed on Maui that “the meetings were opened as soon as I could see to read a hymn and many of them were the most solemn and interesting that I ever witnessed.”

William Alexander, at the Waioli Station on Kauai, recorded, “I have never before witnessed among the people so earnest an attention to the means of grace and so deep concern for the salvation of the soul.”

Meanwhile, back in Hilo the frenzy of the revival coalesced into the largest organized Protestant congregation in all Christendom. The son of missionaries, Sereno Bishop witnessed the Great Revival as a child. He noted, “There was a more direct and efficient presentation of Christ, less encumbered by the old and stiff Westminister forms of doctrine. This new preaching undoubtedly contributed much to the great spiritual awakening among the Hawaiians.”

Discipling New Believers

After converts embraced their new faith, Coan moved his flock into church membership with massive baptisms, keeping careful records of names and dates in a notebook.

“From my pocket list of about 3,000, 1,705 were selected to be baptized and received to the communion of the church on the first Sabbath of July, 1838.”

Coan stood in the middle of the gathering and gave the baptism blessing. “The scene was one of solemn and tender interest, surpassing anything of the kind I had ever witnessed. … All was hushed except sobs and breathing.” Communion was then distributed.

The records of the Haili church preserve the numbers received each year. From 639 in the spring of 1838, the number rose 5,244 in 1839, and 1,499 in 1840.

The confession of faith included abstinence from liquor, kawa drinking, and smoking. Coan kept track of young men who shipped out on whale ships and ministered to them upon their return. His travels included follow-up visits to villagers who returned home from Hilo.

The revivals sparked the earliest missionaries to Hawaii to acknowledge how God was working in their junior counterparts. Hiram Bingham wrote in 1839: “The Spirit of God is showered down upon the whole extent of the Sandwich Islands and those of us who have seemed to think the Gospel could hardly gain a lodgment in the heart of this people because of the alleged stupidity, or ignorance, or want of conscience, are now constrained to admit that they can be as readily affected by the Spirit of God as any class of men with whom we have been acquainted.”

In 1840, Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) declared his kingdom a Christian nation. The Hawaiian Constitution of 1840 began: “God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth, in unity and blessedness. God has also bestowed certain rights alike on all men and all chiefs, and all people of all lands.” Yet as the revival peaked that same year, the leadership of the movement experienced a time of transition. Bingham began to plan his departure from Hawaii, and Coan began confronting the challenges such mass Christian movements face as they mature.

Beginning of the End

During the Great Revival, a single foreign frigate had the power to threaten the takeover of Kamehameha III’s kingdom and a single foreign merchant ship could spread a plague. In July 1839, a French warship arrived near Honolulu and its captain demanded that Kamehameha III grant equal religious rights for Catholics. The king acquiesced, a decision which resulted in the spread of previously banned Roman Catholic churches, and the departure of strict revival-influenced temperance laws that had banned the importation of French wines and brandies.

Protestant norms were further challenged when the United States Exploring Expedition ship Vincennes sailed into Hilo Bay and began to research the Kilauea Volcano and the Hawaii Island’s peaks. Scientists began hiring native Hawaiians by the hundreds to carry 50-pound loads, a job that included working on the Sabbath. A measles epidemic traced back to a California ship in Hilo Bay spread the disease to all islands, launching widespread breakouts of diarrhea and influenza, killing about 10,000 native Hawaiians.

But even as the revival ebbed, the movement had accomplished the goal of the pioneer Sandwich Islands Mission, as charged by the American Board at the Park Street Church in Boston in 1819: “You are to open your hearts wide and set your marks high. You are to aim at nothing short of covering these islands with fruitful fields, and pleasant dwellings and schools and churches, and of raising up a whole people to an elevated state of Christian civilization.”

The ministry and life of Titus Coan in Hawaii continued to flourish following the Great Revival. Coan directed the construction of the present Haili Church from 1855 to 1859. When Fidelia died in Hilo in 1872, Titus remarried to Lydia Bingham, the daughter of Hiram Bingham, despite a 33-year difference in their ages. He died at the age of 81 in Hilo in 1882. Beyond his evangelistic accomplishments, Coan was noted in the scientific world as a pioneer volcanologist, known as the “bishop of Kilauea,” who studied activity at the Kilauea Crater and the high peaks of Hawaii Island.

The Great Revival today is recognized as a vital step in helping the native Hawaiian people survive the great decline of their numbers in the 19th century. Deborah Liikapeka Lee led her family in returning the remains of her ancestor Opukahaia (Henry Obookiah) from New England, the first notable native Hawaiian Christian. She sees the Great Revival as a key event in spreading literacy across the Hawaiian Islands, thus preparing her people for great changes ahead that threatened their future existence:

The Great Revival was very important to all Hawaiians of that time because through the growth of the churches they became educated, knowledgeable. They gained an education like Henry did. From having just an oral language they became as literate as any other people on earth.

The native Hawaiian petition against the Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 was signed in eloquent script. The people were as educated as the royal alii, their status raised by education, health and love from New England. After hundreds of years in isolation their population was diminished by introduced diseases, the remnant living today can look back at the Great Revival as a turning point in their survival.

Christopher L. Cook is the author of The Providential Life & Heritage of Henry Obookiah, and the forthcoming book Preparing the Way, a pictorial account to commemorate the bicentennial of the pioneer American mission to Hawaii sent in 1819. He is a long-time resident and author based on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

 

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VIDEO You Can Huff and You Can Puff

May 20, 2019 by Joe Rodriguez

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“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and blow your house in!”
– The Big Bad Wolf (The Three Little Pigs)

The lighthouse image above immediately brought to mind a Spanish song I use to sing as a young man at my home church.

Funda tu casa sobre la roca
que Jesucristo te ayudara. //
Vendrá la lluvia, vendrá el viento pero tu casa no caerá. //

Build your house upon the rock
Jesus Christ will help you. 
The rain will come, the wind will come
but your house will not fall.

Chances are you’ve heard about the parable of The Wise and the Foolish Builder. It is said that the rain and wind represent erroneous biblical teachings and that building on the rock represents believing and obeying the teachings of Christ.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” -Matthew 7:24 & 26

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While these two analogies are correct (Jesus himself made the comparison), I would suggest that the torrential waters and gushing winds can also represent the Devil’s attack against believers. Whether it’s through false doctrines, temptations, and/or oppression, Satan relentlessly wages spiritual war against God’s children in order to accomplish his goal, which is to keep them from shining the light of Christ.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

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The stormy lighthouse image also reminded me of that famous fable turned nursery rhyme titled The Three Little Pigs. One of the interpretations of this Brothers Grimm type of tale is that the wolf represents the challenges that may come up in life unexpectedly. And the three little pigs building their homes from different materials represent what to do and what not to do to prepare for such challenges.

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The wolf in this rather morbid story can also represent the Devil. Just as he was able to intimidate the first two unprepared piglets with his powerful puff, an attack by the enemy of our souls can cause unprepared Christians to shudder in fear, doubt, and anxiousness. That is why as children of the most high God and through the victory obtained at Calvary’s cross, believers should never forget that they have been given the necessary tools to fight, resist, and conquer the evil forces of darkness. In addition to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us, the word of God tells us exactly what to do so that the Devil retreats even before he attempts to knock us down. The problem is that far too many believers have no clue how to effectively accomplish this simply because they ignore the prerequisite. They either read the instructions out of context or they have been taught wrong by others. Only when we do exactly as the word of God prescribes, will we be able to withstand the enemy’s blows and defeat him in every spiritual battle.

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According to the Apostle James, the key to having commanding power over Satan is to SUBMIT to God. It’s amazing how many followers of Christ are ignorant of the authority they have over the Devil, the world, and their flesh (old nature). This power is available when we are living according to God’s word (commands, standards) and not our own moral convictions, which are usually selfish and prideful. It is only when we totally surrender to God that we begin to fight in the power of His Spirit and quickly realize that truly greater is He who lives in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Most Christians have no problem believing that God hears and answers prayer. Unfortunately, many do not have the same faith when it comes to commanding (rebuking) the Devil and his minions. This amazing scene from the movie War Room is not just a script but a real-life attitude I have witnessed in other believers and one I practice myself.

It would behoove us to not only believe, declare, and proclaim God’s promises when we pray but to also command the enemy of our souls to leave us alone when he tries to wreak havoc in our lives. But keep in mind that as long as we live for God and shine the light of Christ in this world, he will continue to blow winds of discouragement trying to tear down our lighthouses. However, if we have built our faith on the Rock of Ages (Jesus), we can stand against all the storms of life including the Devil’s strikes. Perhaps the next time he comes roaring “Let me in or I will huff and I will puff and I’ll blow your house in!” we can respond like the little pigs who cried, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin” which actually means “No, by God.” A strong “no.” Meaning, “It’s not going to happen!” In Jesus name!

Prayer: Almighty God and heavenly Father, remind me of who I am in you. Thank you for Calvary’s victory, which is now mine to declare. I submit to your lordship and stand firm on your word. And in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, my Savior, I declare that I have victory over sin, the Devil, and the world. Now get behind me Satan, in Jesus name, Amen!

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES
Romans 8:11 (NLT) – The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

1 John 4:4 (KJV) – Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

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VIDEO A Call to Prayer for our President! June 2nd, 2019

May 31, 2019 by Gabriel Etzel

This past week, Franklin Graham called for a special day of prayer for President Trump to be held on Sunday, June 2.

The billygraham.org website explains the initiative by stating, “The only one who can fix our country’s problems is God Himself, and we pray that God will bless our president and our nation for His glory.” The website also includes a list of numerous religious leaders supporting the special day including Jerry Falwell, Jack Graham, David Jeremiah, Jentezen Franklin, and Alan Keyes.

I realize this call to prayer is received in various ways; however, praying for one’s leaders is not a blue or red decision; it is an opportunity for Christians to come together. We participate in electing a President and other government officials and can have disagreements on policies, but praying for our country and our leaders is our responsibility whether or not our candidate wins. When I disagree with policies or decisions, I am unfortunately too quick to complain and I seek to argue my perspective. Perhaps if I turned to prayer as a first response instead of a last resort, I would see that the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5)

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, 250 CHRISTIAN LEADERS CALL FOR ‘DAY OF PRAYER’ FOR TRUMP

As you process through Franklin Graham’s request to pray for our President, consider the following:

First, there is power in prayer. The Billy Graham Evangelist Association explains prayer as a “spiritual communication between man and God, a two-way relationship in which man should not only talk to God but also listen to Him. Prayer to God is like a child’s conversation with his father. It is natural for a child to ask his father for the things he needs.” When God’s people pray, they are conversing with the God of the universe, and Scripture speaks to the importance of prayer within the life of the individual. AND, prayer is also where we can listen to God’s voice. Prayer speaks to God’s heart, but it also speaks to our hearts. Specifically, Philippians 4 instructs us to, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Prayer is not only a way to present our requests to God, it provides a posture for his followers to be formed and comforted by our heavenly Father.

Second, calling for special times of prayer is a common occurrence throughout the Scriptures. Prayer is a regular part of the lives of God’s people, and prayer is also part of some of the most important events throughout the Bible. Abraham prays for an heir in Genesis 15. Samuel’s mother Hannah prays for her son in 1 Samuel 2.

There is a special time of prayer at the dedication of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 8. Daniel prays regularly and is used by God to influence world leaders. Nehemiah prayed for his nation before receiving permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In the New Testament, Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matthew 6), and he had a dedicated time of prayer with his disciples prior to his arrest and crucifixion. Prayer is woven throughout the fabric of the Bible, and is an important element within the life of God’s people.

Third, we are commanded in Scripture to pray for our leaders. First, Timothy 2:1-2 indicates we are to pray for all people, but also specifically notes national leaders. The text reads, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Scripture affirms the power of God to direct governing authorities and structures. From the humble beginnings of the nation of Israel to the establishment of kings over the nation of Israel, even to the future reign of Jesus over all creation, we see God’s sovereign hand at work. As his people, we are to faithfully serve him and regularly pray for those in authority over us.

Considering the power of prayer, the special times of prayer within Scripture, and the command for us to pray for our leaders, I hope you will make a special attempt to pray for our President this Sunday, it is both a privilege and responsible we bear as citizens of this nation and children of the King.


A Call to Prayer for our President! June 2nd, 2019

The Bible is a two-edged sword, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weapon.

Twenty years later, I can still picture my husband Michael as a boy, jumping up in a roomful of cross-legged students and shouting, “Got it!” Moments before his triumphant cry, the teacher had yelled, “Swords in the air!” to which we all heaved our Bibles toward the ceiling, elbows slightly bent under the weight of the Good Book. The room transformed into a wave of uplifted skinny arms and Scripture. When all “swords” were thus unsheathed, the teacher shouted a book, chapter, and verse reference, and we would drop our Bibles into our laps in a race to be the first child to find it. I was a shy girl, so I faked my participation in Bible drills, whereas Michael clearly relished the idea of winning. I laugh at the memory of it now, but I also realize the formative nature of this early experience with God’s Word—how, in a way, we were taught to view our Bible as a weapon.

There is scriptural precedence for this. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and of marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Paul uses this war and weaponry language in Ephesians 6:16-17 when he writes of putting on the full armor of God: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (ESV). Most biblically literate Christians are familiar with the imagery and Paul’s words, but we don’t always consider how this description can subtly affect the way we approach Scripture. The weaponization of the Bible against other people is a centuries-old temptation.

Throughout history, the Bible has been used to justify all manner of evil, including slavery, genocide, and the subjugation of minorities and women. Singular verses have been taken out of context to suit a particular goal or purpose, with little thought regarding the nature of the text, the intended audience, or the historical context. I’d like to believe this is no longer the case in modern society, but the nightly news often tells a different story.

For centuries, brothers and sisters in Christ have used the Word of God to foster a culture of infighting and division.

Sadly, in today’s politicized landscape, where aggressive culture wars rage on year after year, we see God’s Word used as a tool for division. Various groups with various belief systems all claim the pages of Scripture, using them to justify their position and condemn their opponents. It leaves me wondering how we can avoid further division. As believers, how can we use Scripture to sow peace?

We need to acknowledge that this weaponization isn’t something we do only to non-Christians—we also do it to each other. For centuries, brothers and sisters in Christ have used the Word of God to foster a culture of infighting and division. Our rifts cast a shadow across the Bible and the church alike, shrouding the good news as if in a dense fog. How, instead, can we bear witness to this good news rather than bury it? To this gospel hope that is our offering to a despairing world as it stands back and watches?

It’s unfortunately easy to forget or overlook that when Scripture talks about itself as a sword, the target is not fellow humans. Paul reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). According to Paul, we fight against evil in the realm of the spirit. Scripture is a sword meant to be used on our knees in prayer. The enemy is Satan himself.

The difficult truth is, when we feel as if we are wrestling against flesh and blood, it is often our own we’re contending with. We fight against our flesh and its sinful impulses on a daily basis. In those moments, the sword of the spirit should be aimed not away but toward the darkness of our own heart. Scripture is our means of renewal, the gift from God by which both heart and mind are recalibrated to shape right thinking and holy living—transforming us into instruments of redemption and peace.

Scripture is a sword meant to be used on our knees in prayer. The enemy is Satan himself.

In Isaiah 2:4, the prophet gives us a vision for a peaceful kingdom when he writes, “And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” These images are compelling when applied to our use of Scripture as a weapon. A sword is a tool of destruction, whereas a plowshare is a tool of creation—a necessity for growth and cultivation of the entrusted kingdom.

The Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai transforms this imagery even further in his poem “An Appendix to the Vision of Peace”:

Don’t stop after beating the swords
into plowshares, don’t stop! Go on beating
and make musical instruments out of them.
Whoever wants to make war again
will have to turn them into plowshares first.

As I rethink my deeply ingrained perception of the Bible, I’m reminded that the first time God speaks in Scripture, it is through an act of creation. His speech is generative, giving light and life. Those of us who follow Christ are called to be His instruments in the physical realm, working toward a world where justice seeking and peace building are the hallmarks of His kingdom. A world redeemed will come about, not through the weaponization of God’s Word against one another, but rather through creative cultivation and a commitment to the sweet song of peace.

Illustration by Sr. Garcia

Related Topics:  Reading Bible

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