My New Focus

When I initiated this Pondering Principles blog back in 2008, I had a concept for what it would be. Since I was a professor of history and incorporated a lot of political analysis into my teaching, I sought to do the same with the blog. What I envisioned was an almost-daily commentary on current events from a perspective that would highlight a Christian worldview. My heart was right; the vision I had of basing political analysis on Biblical teaching is foundational for someone with a desire to combine Christian faith with historical knowledge. I hoped that knowledge—through that faith—would transform into comprehension for readers of the blog, as well as wisdom in how to respond to what was happening in our culture.

As I carried out this vision, I wanted to be different than many of the commentators who concentrated on stoking anger and leading people into bitterness over the culture’s ongoing assault on Christian morality. I can’t say I was always successful in demonstrating that difference because I also was angry over what I could see transpiring. The temptation is always present to give full vent to one’s exasperation. Yet, as the Scripture in Proverbs that you see here reminds us, when we do give full vent, we enter into the sphere of foolishness. Only the wise realize the importance of maintaining control over one’s emotions and not responding in kind to the foolishness in the world. As the apostle Paul exhorts, we are to speak the truth in love. The goal is always to be redemptive in everything we say and do.

Without going into too much detail, I will say that the events of the past five years have altered my original conception of what this blog should be. The political conservatism that I’ve always promoted because I saw it as an outgrowth of a Christian worldview (and still do) has changed. What passes for political conservatism today is not what I’ve always believed in. It has transformed into an ugly thing dominated by bitterness, vindictiveness, disregard for the rule of law, and a willingness to spread lies and disinformation generated by ludicrous conspiracy theories for the transient goal of political survival and/or advancement.

This troubling political transformation has led to an inner transformation in me. I have not become cynical, but I have come to a greater realization that many who always said they stood on principle were not telling the truth. For a while, I tried to point this out in blog posts, but there was little to indicate in the responses that many were willing to reevaluate their position. Some wondered why I wouldn’t join the multitude who chose to fall off the moral cliff. Regular readers of my blog will notice that posts on politics have nearly disappeared. The Lord has refocused my mind and heart.

That Scripture in Ecclesiastes came to me earlier in my life at a very pivotal time. It now comes back to me again as an urging in the Spirit to make sure that my priorities are right. Nothing is more important than our relationship with God. Although I would usually include Scripture in my political analyses to help show the linkage with current events, I watched with sadness many Christians, especially those of the evangelical stripe, ignore the Biblical basis for analysis and simply play “follow the leader” politically. Biblical principles no longer seemed to be foundational in their thinking.

My goal for my blog now is to refocus away from constant analysis of politics. I don’t write as often as I used to, but when I do, I want to use this medium to encourage faithfulness to the Lord and exhort my Christian brothers and sisters to live lives that exemplify their faith in their words and actions. After writing my book on C. S. Lewis, I’ve devoted a significant percentage of blog posts to insights from his works—and I will continue to do so. I had considered stopping the blog entirely, but the Lord has reaffirmed in my spirit that He wants me to continue.

I’m not discouraged because the Lord has given me a mission that He wants me to fulfill. I will run this race with perseverance for as long as He gives me breath.

This doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all interest in politics and government, and the impact they make on our culture. I’m concerned about how government policies will affect Christian believers. I also maintain an even deeper concern for Christians who allow themselves to be led astray from truth by following after unrighteousness in the political realm. This fall I will once again teach a university course called “Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism.” I will do so with a desire to help students see the difference between a Biblical foundation for politics and what is happening currently. Therefore, I’m not saying I won’t ever comment again on the political situation; however, it won’t be my main focus, and when I do comment, I hope to do so in a spirit of love and redemption.

At a critical time in my life when I was in need of knowing whether God was still with me, He spoke to me in the hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.”

“My sin, Oh the joy of this glorious thought–my sin, not in part, but the whole–is nailed to the Cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Oh, my soul!”

I’m not one to say cavalierly that I hear God speaking to me, but on that occasion, I distinctly heard a voice saying, “That’s for you.” His presence was so close, His love so real, His forgiveness so all-encompassing that I literally wept.

There’s nothing greater than knowing His love and His calling for your life. He has encouraged me and has told me to encourage others. I am committed to that calling.