Is This America?

Is this America?

Aaron & Melissa KleinFor two years, Aaron and Melissa Klein have been living a nightmare. Owners of an Oregon bakery, they had the audacity to refuse to bake a cake for a “gay wedding.” By the way, I continue to put that phrase in quotes because I find it so antithetical to common sense and one of the classic oxymorons of our time.

I have commented before on this case because of the gaystapo tactics of the state of Oregon. Now, not only have the Kleins been fined $135,000, they have been given a deadline of this coming Monday to pay the fine or lose their home. In addition to that threat, they have been ordered not to speak at all publicly about the case. In effect, they have been unconstitutionally gagged.

The Kleins are appealing the ruling, so we don’t yet know the final decision. The trend of the nation, however, is against them.

What I appreciate most is the outstanding witness they have been to their Christian convictions. They have always been willing to serve anyone, regardless of a person’s lifestyle; what they refused to do is what any genuine Christian should refuse—participation in a ceremony that mocks God’s institution of marriage.

PersecutionIf forced to pay the fine, they should be able to do it, since people have come to their aid. The last I heard, more than $200,000 has been collected on their behalf. However, they will also have attorney fees and other expenses, not to mention the loss of their business. They are being persecuted for what they believe. They truly are suffering for their faith in Christ.

There comes a point where Christians may have to just patiently endure the suffering, knowing there is no recourse for them in a nation that has set itself against God, but that time has not yet arrived. There still are avenues to follow to fight for justice. I applaud the Kleins for taking a stand. They do this not only for themselves, but for all of us who may have to walk the same path.

This is not the America I’ve known for most of my life. We can be discouraged or we can take a stand for righteousness. I choose the latter.

The Latest Threats to Education

The fallout from the Supreme Court same-sex marriage pronouncement continues. I’ve often commented on how education will be affected, all the way from elementary school through college. Two examples.

NEA LogoFirst, the National Education Association (NEA) held its annual meeting in Orlando this past week. That organization is far more associated with radical ideology than genuine education, and has been for most of its history. For years, it has advocated every Leftist idea and has trashed Christian beliefs.

This year, a resolution passed that called upon its state affiliates and members to develop educational materials to counter all religious freedom restoration acts. The goal is to brainwash the children into the new “truth” of acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and to portray Christians as the primary opponents of equality.

Also at this meeting, one of the speakers, a woman, used her time at the microphone to propose marriage to her female partner.

No alternate voice was allowed to be heard at any time during this annual meeting. That’s not unusual for the NEA. It’s not really an educational organization; it’s a lobbying group bent on destroying what education ought to be.

Barry LynnThen, on the college and university front, Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State came out in favor of eliminating all federal student loans and other federal government funding to Christian educational institutions that don’t make provision for housing same-sex couples.

Lynn stated,

I would not want to be a person at a fundamentalist academy who is trying to defend the practice, that is taking a reasonable amount of government funds and refusing to allow a same-sex married couple to live in the married student housing. I think even now, that would be on the edge of the indefensible.

Lynn, by the way, has been around a long time and uses his credential as a minister in the United Church of Christ as leverage to get what he wants. For those who are unfamiliar with that denomination, it is one of the most liberal in existence, and has cut itself off from real Christianity.

Personally, I don’t think Christian colleges and universities should be part of a government funding system anyway. However, this is a direct attack, knowing that since most of those colleges have decided to wed themselves to the system, it will lead to severe economic hardship and the closure of many of the colleges.

That is the ultimate goal.

These are only the beginnings of what we will see in the coming days. It is a time of testing for Christians. We will find out who is really part of the Bride of Christ and who is only a wedding crasher. Only those truly devoted to their Savior will stand.

A Time for Boldness

Supreme Court aside, we are changing as a nation regardless. For years, conservatives have comforted themselves by saying that the majority of Americans still hold to traditional morality despite the trend of the government and the media, yet if polls are to be believed—and there is always a caution with that—the majority may no longer be tied to the Biblical values that have characterized our national framework of thinking. We may be on the verge of a radical transformation.

Self Identify

Even though this development is due primarily to a loss of our Biblical foundations, it has been helped along considerably by approval from the top of our government:

Bigot

The radical shift has manifested itself most prominently on the issue of homosexuality, of course. And let’s be honest—same-sex marriage was merely the window dressing for a movement that doesn’t believe in marriage at all, and that seeks the removal of all Biblical morality from our culture. It is every bit as totalitarian in nature as the terrorist threat we face:

Convert

The breeding ground for all of this is the education system. We can complain all we want about how terrible it is and how America’s children are not being educated, but I believe it actually is accomplishing the purposes of those who are directing this system. The goal for many in the educational establishment is to create a generation without any real knowledge of or appreciation for history, government, and Biblical morality.

It begins at the secondary level and extends all the way through college. Take, for instance, the pronouncement by Janet Napolitano, who now heads the University of California system, as to what professors are allowed or not allowed to say:

That Stupid

This radical transformation of our society is pervasive, and it will take a major effort on our part to forestall this transformation. Politics and government are not the primary means for reversing the trend, but they do reflect who we are as a people. If we really want to see a change, we need to redouble our commitment to the real transforming power: the true Gospel message that changes hearts and minds. When we do that God’s way, we will see changes take place in the society overall and the government specifically.

Christians need to take their message to the nation more boldly than ever. We need to stand firm and be wise in how we communicate. We need to vote accordingly. Now is not the time to retreat into a shell; rather, the battle is upon us, and we need to call upon the Lord for the courage to wage it.

Charleston: Tragedy, Hope, & a Warning

AME ChurchMost Americans, I believe, have been shocked and grieved by the murders in the Charleston AME church. Nine members of the predominately black church were simply attending a Wednesday evening Bible study/prayer meeting before they were killed.

Clementa PinckneyAmong the dead was the pastor of the church, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator. From all accounts I’ve heard, he was a genuine Christian man. The consolation, of course, is that he and the others who were dedicated to the Lord are now in His presence.

Dylann RoofThe perpetrator, Dylann Roof, based on all the evidence thus far, is a confirmed racist who seems to believe that blacks are taking over the country. Reports also indicate that he is a drug addict. His actions were planned well in advance; he didn’t even live in Charleston, and why he chose to target this particular church is still unknown.

What are the bright sides of a story like this? First, it appears that the Charleston community, black and white, have come together in unity over this heinous act. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any movement toward violence. Rather, a spirit of harmony and prayer is dominating.

Tom Frady & Debbie DillsSecond, it’s fascinating how Roof was captured. A woman in North Carolina, Debbie Dills, had been watching Fox News yesterday morning and had seen pictures of the car and Roof. As she was driving to work, she realized a car in front of her with South Carolina license plates matched the description. She pulled up beside the car and noticed that the driver looked just like the photo on TV.

At that point, she called her supervisor, Tom Frady, at the florist shop where she works. He stayed on the line with her until the police were contacted and took over. The entire time, she continued to tail the car.

I saw her interviewed this morning on Fox, and she is a deeply committed Christian who gave God all the praise for allowing her to play a part in the capture of this fugitive. So, out of tragedy, we have another testimony of how the Lord can work through an individual to bring justice.

Yes, this was a racial incident. It is to be condemned as such. It also has another element to it that we need to be aware of—it was an attack on churchgoers within the building. While that part may have been incidental in this case, I have often wondered how long we are going to continue to feel safe in our churches. There is a militant anti-Christian segment of our population—both atheist and Islamic extremist—that knows churches are soft targets. It’s hard to imagine this event won’t embolden them.

Christians need to stand together and remain faithful to the message of redemption from sin. We also need to be alert to the rising hostility toward our beliefs. Things are changing in America, and those changes are a portent of the dangers we may face in the not-too-distant future.

The Way Is Still Narrow

FaithA flurry of news reports of late are touting polls that show fewer Americans identify as Christians. Good. We’re finally being honest. I mean, let’s get serious—more than 70% of Americans are really Christians?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m just as concerned about the decline in public profession of Christian faith as anyone, but there’s a clear difference between some type of acknowledgement of a vague definition of Christianity and the real thing.

In the past, it always helped to call oneself a Christian because the culture embraced the general tenets of the faith. Now that is changing, and those who are on the outer fringes of what they think is Christianity are more willing to distance themselves from it.

Why is that? Because they were never genuine Christians to begin with. Of those 70%-plus of Americans who have said they are Christian, one finds a large segment of “God-believers” who have either a deistic view of God or just some notion of “the Man upstairs.” That’s not Christianity. Another segment consists of those who have more knowledge of the truth but whose lives don’t measure up because they have never surrendered their wills to God and made Jesus Lord.

Cross & FlagThere’s also a segment that mistakes “God and Country” for the real deal. I’m as patriotic as anyone when it comes to the original intent of America’s mission under God, but that also is not Christianity if one simply uses God as a prop for love of country.

Here’s the good side of this shift: those who are on the fringes and not actually Christians are slowly (and in some cases rapidly) disowning the faith they never had in the first place, leaving those who have committed themselves to the Lordship of Christ to stand out as the beacons of life and hope God intends for them to be.

Perhaps one of the silver linings in this “falling away” is the clarity with which one can see the difference between real Christians and those who are fake. Real Christians believe (and act upon) the following:

  • Sin is a disruption of the entire order and intent of God for the universe;
  • Our willful sinfulness has caused a break in the relationship between God and man;
  • The only remedy is God’s love revealed through His Son as a sacrifice to wipe away our sin;
  • We receive His forgiveness and new life through repentance and faith in what He has done for us;
  • We now strive to obey His every command out of gratitude for lifting us from the pit of selfishness and despair;
  • The only enduring improvements in this world of darkness come through faith in Jesus Christ, and those improvements start within us, then spread to the culture around us.

TruthJesus taught His disciples that the way to life was narrow, and few would find it. The way to destruction is broad, and most will take that path. If anything, the latest polls are still skewed—there are far fewer Christians than they indicate. But if you are one of the redeemed, your task remains: shine the light of Christ wherever you are. The culture may be careening toward self-destruction, but we still can impact it for the Truth, and that Truth still sets people free.

Baltimore’s Real Problems & the Solution

Baltimore is now outwardly calmed, although reports from the ground say that there remains a simmering anger. Some of that has been assuaged by the news that charges are being brought against the six police who were somehow involved with the arrest of Freddie Gray. It’s interesting to note, though, that three of those six are African American, one an African American woman whose last name is White. Irony of ironies.

Let’s be honest here. None of what occurred with Freddie Gray was racial. What the news reports don’t say is that Gray had been arrested something like eighteen times, mostly for dealing drugs. He had served a two-year prison sentence for those activities. He was not exactly a model citizen.

The investigation was cut short by the announcement of the upcoming charges against the police. Those doing the investigating were caught off guard by it, as what appears to be an overzealous prosecutor (who is married to a city councilman who was behind the “stand down” order to police). Many are saying these charges will be dismissed because they are over the top. Many are also saying the only reason these charges were brought so quickly, before the official investigation could be concluded, was to stem the violence, a violence that has no real basis in what happened to Gray, but was merely the opportunity to run wild.

Tell Me Again

I will say again what I said a week ago. What we see in Baltimore is the Great Society in operation. Baltimore has not been neglected by the government; money has flowed into the city. The real question is where has it gone? It seems to disappear, as it goes primarily to politicians and their supporters. It enriches those who are already at the top at the expense of those who are at the bottom. They are kept at the bottom by the handouts they do receive, and the promises of more.

This is the perfect welfare state that keeps people in poverty. I will also mention again, as I did last week, that this city has been run, and is currently run, by those with a “progressive” vision. The last Republican mayor stepped down in the 1960s. You can’t blame them.

Neither can anyone legitimately blame some kind of “white power structure.” The mayor is black, the police commissioner is black, the city council has a majority black representation, and the police force is approximately 50/50 racially (as indicated by the police who have been charged). Baltimore is a corrupt city run by corrupt politicians who have had their way for decades. It’s way past time to be honest about the source of oppression in the city.

Oppressed

Real help for the people of Baltimore will never come from its government. Real help will come from those inspired by their Christian faith to minister to those in need. You know, like the Baptist church that had just completed building a senior citizens’ assisted living center. Only one problem: the rioters burned it to the ground.

Let’s look at the real problems in Baltimore and other cities like it. Let’s look at the real solutions, not the empty promises offered by liberal/progressives who are more adept at lining their own pockets than offering real aid.

I forgot to mention something else at the root of the problem: all these government programs that started in the 1960s have decimated the black family in America. That’s why there are few fathers available to hold the rioting teenagers accountable. The mess we have created can only be solved through a bedrock Christian faith operating through our churches and within families. Without that spiritual rebuilding, there will be more of what we saw in Baltimore. This may be only the beginning of a long hot summer . . . and beyond.

Atrocities Against Christians (cont.)

Have you heard of another atrocity committed by Muslims against Christians, this time on a boat of refugees fleeing Africa for Italy? Here are the details:

Christians Thrown OverboardItalian police say that Muslim migrants from Libya threw 12 Christians overboard after they refused to pray to Allah as the group’s dinghy began to sink. In total, 15 African Muslims were detained on charges of suspected assault and homicide.

The Obama administration responded with a call to end “senseless” violence. As always, the administration shows its unwillingness to say what this really is, a logical outgrowth of Islamic belief that seeks to kill all who don’t bow down to their concept of God. There’s nothing “senseless” about it; it makes perfect sense if those are your beliefs.

This is just another in a long series of statements (or lack of statements) by Obama and his acolytes, who consistently refuse to acknowledge that Christians are being targeted and that Muslims are responsible for those murders.

WH Response

But what should one expect from a president who continually calls himself a Christian while advocating for unbiblical positions in public policy?

Backlash Continues

We haven’t reached the level of persecution yet in America that leads to mass murders, but how long will it take before we get to that point? The culture is shifting rapidly in favor of denouncing all Christian morality and any claims that Christ is the only Way, Truth, and Life. We need to be prepared spiritually for that possibility, while simultaneously working to reverse this awful trend.