Archive for April, 2018

Five recent news stories indicate a concerning trend in America; a shift from disagreeing with Christians to discriminating against them. Sadly, these attacks are slowly becoming accepted.

With a campaign of redefined words such as ‘intolerance,’ it often starts with mild persecution.

New Yorker magazine recently suggested Chick-fil-A, the third largest restaurant franchise in America, doesn’t belong in their blue state because of the alleged “infiltration” of what one writer called “pervasive Christian traditionalism.”

That’s right, a corporation built on family values, hard work, and integrity, and whose stated mission is to “glorify God,” who also donates thousands of pounds of food to the homeless is somehow a threat to the liberal stronghold of New York.

Down south, a Miami Dolphins cheerleader went public because she was discriminated against for not only being a Christian, but apparently a virgin as well. As a cheerleader, Kristin Ann Ware was also criticized for posting a Bible verse on social media with a photo of her baptism.

Over in Minnesota, a school bus driver and pastor was recently removed from his route for praying with students on the way to school, even though students would volunteer to lead prayer. 

Next, you probably heard liberal Democrat and anti-Christian Senator, Corey Booker, actually believes that those who have a biblical worldview are unfit to serve our country.

At a confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Booker grilled Mike Pompeo, but it wasn’t about foreign policy or any of the most pressing national concerns. He demanded to know Pompeo’s stance on homosexual sex and asked, “Do you believe gay sex is a perversion?” Can you imagine a Muslim, Jew, or anyone else being asked this kind of question?

Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire writes:

Here’s the real issue: when your religion is government, and government is god, you cannot tolerate any other God before it — and you assume that all those who believe in God wish to mobilize government in order to impose God’s will.

Booker’s line of questioning was flat-out unconstitutional, but did you hear the media mention it – if they reported on it at all? The Constitution clearly forbids religious tests for public office. Period.

But here’s the most disturbing story: a bill was passed in California that could ban counseling services and the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian views about sexual immorality. This pro-homosexual bill would ban the Bible! (Images of Nazi’s burning books in the 1930s may come to mind.)

Assembly Bill 2943 would make it unlawful to engage in transactions offering to pursue “sexual orientation change efforts with an individual.”

National Review’s David French says California state law would lock in a sexual-revolution orthodoxy that hurts the very people they seek to protect. The bill defines “change efforts” as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions…”

French adds, “…no state legislature should be permitted to ban a “good” (such as a book) or a “service” (like counseling) that makes these arguments and provides them to willing, consenting consumers.”

This would not only outlaw certain speech, but California seems willing to ignore the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of and enjoyment of religion without discrimination.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration, and if they pass it, radical CA Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it. And if the bill becomes law, we know from past history what happens in California doesn’t stay in California.

In recent years, Christians believing in the Bible and natural marriage have been suspended or fired from their jobs, sued and taken to court, slandered, some have lost businesses, savings, and have been viciously attacked in the press and on social media.

How can we respond? Stay the course. Don’t fret and don’t be surprised by any of this. Jesus told His followers they would be hated because of Him, and we cannot compare what’s happening in America with what our brothers and sisters in Christ endure in hostile nations. Press on, my friend; God is faithful.

*Originally published at Freedom Project Media.

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Just a week ago I was in the hospital after having a procedure on my heart and guess what? Here I am, thank God! But not everybody makes it through surgery. In fact, not everybody makes it home from work.

It brings up the question of the ages: What happens to us after we die? Well, that depends.

What if I died on the operating table? First of all, this video wouldn’t exist. My body would’ve been prepared for a funeral, and my spirit would be on its way to be with my Master and Savior in Heaven; the One who created us all.

You may be thinking, ‘how can I be so sure?’ Faith. The Bible offers assurance of eternal life with Christ in Heaven for those who believe.

I realize most people would rather not think about it, but ten out of ten people die. Life comes to an end for people from every country, of all different ages, for various reasons. No one is exempt.

It’s just a matter of time.

Almost everyone has heard the Bible verse, John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus died on the cross to bridge the gap between us and a holy God. Every one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and when Jesus returns, He will judge those still living as well as those who have died.

For better context, let’s keep reading. Here’s John 3:17 and 18:

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”

Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ can save us from our sins.

Prior to my surgery last week, I had to sign a consent form. Even before that, I was told of all the possible risks and complications including a torn heart muscle, punctured lung, torn artery, partial paralysis, stroke during the operation or even death.

The list of possible risks was long, but the absolute greatest risk we can take in this life is denying God by refusing to believe in His Son, Jesus, and not accepting the free offer of the forgiveness of our sins.

Acts 4:12 states: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

And Philippians 2:9-11 says:

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day, even those who refused to believe will bow before the King of Kings upon His return.

I was at peace going in to surgery because I trusted Jesus with my life years ago, and knew regardless of the result, it would be a win win. This life is a vapor and for the Christian, we live for Him and to die is gain!

Forgiveness for our sins is mankind’s greatest need. In America, we’ve heard so much about a loving God and rarely hear about His coming judgment. It’s true God is loving, but He is not tolerant of sin in any form.

We’ve also heard the man-made idea God just wants us to be happy, problem-free, and give us favor so that every day’s a Friday and we can live our best life now.

Do you really believe the Bible teaches about personal gain and happiness rather than about denying ourselves and holiness? In addition, if every day were a Friday, let’s just party like it’s 2099. Finally, if we could live our best lives now, here on earth, then why would we need God and what’s Heaven for anyway?

Now, plenty of people think all it takes to go to Heaven is to be a good person, but the question is, ‘good’ by whose standards? Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)

Sure, we can do good things, but can we truly be good without God?

The Bible teaches there is nothing we can possibly do to earn salvation. If we could do it on our own, then Jesus didn’t have to be die for our sins and be raised from the dead. In Ephesians chapter 2 it says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Open your hands and receive the free gift of life. Salvation is not a result of good deeds – but of faith. It’s true God prepared good things for us to do, but – what we do doesn’t save us; it’s who we believe in and why.

So repent of your sins, confess them to God. Trust in Jesus Christ, and tell others this good news, the gospel, the power of God to save us (Romans 1:16). He will be faithful to complete the work He began in us and then, take us to glory when our time here is done.

*Originally published at Freedom Project Media

Hollywood loves money, and the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. But faith-based films typically do extremely well at the box office and they don’t seem to care. It doesn’t add up. What does Hollywood love more than money? Mockery, perversity, and rebellion perhaps?

If you haven’t seen the new movie, I Can Only Imagine based on the #1 song by Christian band MercyMe, make sure you bring enough Kleenex. It’s a true story of forgiveness and redemption, and one memorable line from the movie’s main character is:

“My dad was a monster, and I saw God transform him.”

It took Bart Millard ten minutes to write the song “I Can Only Imagine,” but as Amy Grant said at the time, “It didn’t take you ten minutes, Bart; it took a lifetime.”

Many people can relate to life’s ups and downs; in some cases, abuse; hurts, healing, fears and failures, broken hearts, and finding true joy and peace in God.

It shouldn’t surprise us when Christian-themed movies do well at the box office.

The most obvious example was the 2004 blockbuster by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ. Starring Jim Caviezel, it holds the record for Christian films after bringing in nearly $84 million its first weekend! It grossed over $611 million worldwide and cost $30 million to produce.

The Christian blockbuster is the third highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and the #3 film of 2004.

In comparison, the #2 film from the same year was Spider-Man 2 which only took in a few million more than The Passion of the Christ (in the U.S.) but, get this: Spider Man 2 cost a whopping $200 million!

I don’t have time to get into the massive marketing budgets Hollywood feature films often blow through, but it’s pretty clear many Christian films are money-makers. Why do you think this is?

A lot of people are tired of the trashy, godless, profane products Hollywood typically puts out. Numbers indicate there’s an enormous audience across the country desperate for clean, positive, redemptive, God-centered entertainment.

Let’s look at three movies released on the exact same day just weeks ago: I Can Only Imagine has already raked in over $70 million despite costing only $7 million to make. (Did you get that?)

The movie is the fourth-biggest opening for a faith-based film, and it only debuted in limited cities, playing on only 1,600 screens. I Can Only Imagine came in third among movies with ten times the budget; movies playing in twice the number of theaters.

Critics raved about the openly gay-themed coming-of-age movie, Love, Simon, which has only made $37 million and cost $17 million to produce.

Thirdly, also released March 16 was Warner Brothers’ Tomb Raider which has grossed about $55 million at the box office, but cost $94 million to make!

Finally, the high-budget Hollywood favorite, A Wrinkle In Time, based on the book, practically bombed in theaters. It had star power and marketing, but producers replaced Christian themes that were in the book and put New Age, politically-correct ideology in the movie.

I agree with author and blogger Matt Walsh, who suggests Hollywood is choosing to leave lots of money on the table because unfortunately, they seem to hate Christians more than they love profits.

“A lot of people …have no interest in the raunchy stuff. And practically no one wants to watch a gay romance, no matter how much Hollywood insists…  Faith is the driving force in the lives of millions… and people like stories they find relatable.”

Also in theaters now is God’s Not DeadA Light in Darkness, and Paul, Apostle of Christ starring Jim Caviezel.

Spiritual warfare is escalating, sin is celebrated, and darkness seems to be increasing. People need hope! These are just signs of the times, but maybe a few of Hollywood’s’ out-of-touch decision makers will get the message from the success of Christian films at the box office. For now however, we can only hope for more inspiring, family-friendly content rather than all the soul pollution.

*originally published at Freedom Project Media

 

Historical, prophetic, and archaeological evidence confirms the resurrection of Jesus Christ – and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Easter bunny, chocolate or pastels! 

The Case for Christ movie came out last year based on the outstanding bests-selling book by author and former atheist, Lee Strobel. He was a Chicago Tribune journalist who set out to disprove Christianity and traveled the world in an effort to do so. 

He did meticulous research and interviewed the world’s top historians, theologians, and medical experts while examining the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Disappointed because he accumulated so much evidence supporting the Bible and none to refute the claims of Christianity, he sat in his office one day and a co-worker said to him:

“Lee, when is enough evidence enough evidence?”

His investigation was completed and Strobel became a born-again believer. 

Many historians outside the Bible wrote about Jesus, about His followers, Pontius Pilate, key events and places; they wrote about the crucifixion – including the solar eclipse occurring for three of the hours Jesus was on the cross, a great earthquake, and the persecution of countless disciples of Christ. 

Jewish non-biblical historian, Josephus writes about Jesus in “the Antiquities of the Jews.” Josephus was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. Under the rule of Roman emperor Vespasian, Josephus mentions the execution of James and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ, and describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. 

Sources outside the Bible could be reconstructed this way: 

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (believing). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared…” 

And according to Old Testament scholar, Gleason Archer: 

“As I have dealt with one apparent discrepancy after another and have studied the alleged contradictions between the biblical record and the evidence of linguistics, archaeology, or science, my confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture has been repeatedly verified and strengthened…” 

Those who are open to the truth can research for themselves. You’ll learn about the early dating of the New Testament documents compared to other ancient literary works; overwhelming archaeological evidence, hundreds of fulfilled prophecies listing specific details about Christ, and of course, plenty of eye-witness testimony not to mention the thousands of people through the centuries willing to die for the faith. 

Acts 1:3 says Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles after the crucifixion, by many convincing proofs, AND appeared to them over a period of forty days! What did Luke mean by “Many Convincing Proofs”? 

To answer this question we need to go to the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. 

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 

Why didn’t the Jews and Romans squash Christianity before it took off? First of all, we just read Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and that He appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time! 

If this weren’t enough, Paul testified to the fact most of these people were still alive at the time this was written (verse 6) so it could not be refuted! There were far too many eye-witnesses of the risen Christ. 

then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 1 COR. 15:1-7 

Weeks earlier, James was a skeptic. About the half-brother of Jesus, the Bible says “even His own brothers didn’t believe in Him.” But this James became a pillar in the early church and leader of the Jerusalem Council. Tradition holds that James was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. 

What changed his mind and radically transformed his life? The truth of the resurrection; Jesus appeared to James personally. Eye-witness testimony is critical in a court of law. 

Others the risen Christ appeared to included Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, the disciples including Thomas, Cleopas and one other on the Emmaus road, in Galilee to over 500 people, and to Paul on the Damascus road. These are just those we know of from Scripture. 

Then there’s prophecy: Seven hundred years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah said Jesus would be like a lamb led to slaughter, and: 

He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah. 53:45 

Christ offered Himself, voluntarily enduring brutal torture and death, so why do we call it ‘Good’ Friday and ‘Easter’? Because His shed blood washes us clean and because He lives, so will we! Those who believe are assured an everlasting Hope that anchors our souls.

Moreover, on what we know as Palm Sunday, the very gate Jesus rode through on a donkey the week prior to being crucified, the Eastern Gate, will be the gate through which He enters Jerusalem when He returns. 

Who could have ever manufactured such an intricate story – a masterpiece combining thousands of years of historical events, written by at least 40 different authors on three different continents, including prophecies in perfect and specific detail? Who could have created and insured the carrying out of such an elaborate plan in advance? 

It had to be God! Fulfilled prophecy reinforces the truth of Scripture. 

Before His death on the cross, Jesus told His followers over and over what He came to accomplish and how it had to happen. In Luke’s gospel, after Jesus’ resurrection: 

He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:44-48 

Examine the evidence – and believe!