This last election cycle, and really every election cycle, kind of demonstrates that there are Christians who are probably not concerned enough about the political process. There are Christians that are kind of appropriately concerned and there are Christians that are overly invested, in the political process. I think one of the greatest guards is to remember that we are those who have a dual citizenship, and our citizenship is in heaven and Christ, and we are in the (Book of) Peter language “pilgrims, and sojourners, and travelers through this barren land, that is not our home. We are to render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and render to God the things that belong to God.” I think we want to avoid not taking these things seriously on the one hand, but not avoid being over-invested on the other hand.
Honestly, Christians in the United States, we don’t live in communism or socialism on the dictatorship, so we do have opportunity to vote. I believe there’s some stewardship with that voting. I do believe we’re voting and participating kind of in a broken system, so I encourage scripture Christians to realize they’re not going to open the scripture and see a candidate space. And they’re not going to open the scripture and see the platform of the Democratic, nor the Republican party.
You’re going to have to do some thinking and some engagement, and there’s some contextualization to how you engage in a broken, fallen political system. I don’t mean broken, just in a sense of the United States is categorized by congressional gridlock and all that. I mean broken as in a sense of, our politics is composed of broken people; because all of humanity is fallen. I mean it in that broad sense. There’s no perfect political system.
I would encourage Christians to approach it with the appropriate level of consideration. I’m not over-invested. I’m not under-invested. I realize that the mission of the church, and the mission of me as a Christ honoring husband and father, those kind of things don’t change every four years or two years, on election cycle. The great commission is the same. And so, in one sense, the congregation of followers of Christ, they’re doing the same things regardless of what’s going around us with Caesar and other governmental influences.
Finally, I would just say, I just don’t think there’s anything in the political process that is worth losing the fellowship of the Body of Christ. In this last election cycle, 2016, I think hurt the unity of the Body of Christ of many Bible believing Christians in the United States, and I think we’ll have consequences for our missiological effectiveness for a good while going forward. That has happened. We can’t undo that, and so let’s just press toward the mark of the high calling of God. We have to avoid being over-invested.
I think it’s critical to talk about those things, but I would say the first step is to take action if you want to be a role model for your children. Why don’t you invite a family of a different color over to your home for lunch or dinner, and sit around the table, and just talk? Don’t talk about the big issues, don’t talk about history and all those things, just have a normal discussion with friends. I think that’s a great first place to start, and then from that, building with your kids about, these people are no different from us, other than the color of their skin. They have the same desires, the same hopes, whether you’re black or white or Latino or Asian, it doesn’t matter. That’s one of the things I’m looking at with my own boys, is putting them into culturally rich, diverse situations, and talking to them about that.
Of course, we’re talking about Charlottesville, Jean and I with our teenagers, what’s happening in that context, why the angst? I think their initial reaction as children is to say, “Why do they want to pull down statues?” They don’t get the whole context of that. I think we can all have differences of opinions on these things, but where is the love of Christ? How do we treat each other with the respect that Jesus would desire from us? I think the church has a lot to atone for, historically, because we were rather silent during the civil rights marches, etc. God’s scriptures were twisted to use slavery in a way that was evil.
The other side of it though, is an understanding I think too, that when you’re talking to your kids, I think I saw a survey where 100% of high school students in the US thought slavery started and was only in the United States. So that is a tragic misunderstanding of global history. And the fact that slavery was really a modality that most conquering nations, tribes, etc used to build their own economies, whatever it might’ve been. Even the native Americans in the United States had slaves within their tribes, so it was a part of human history. Today we still have sex trafficking, another form of human slavery today. So there’s just something in the heart of humanity that leans in that direction, but we are making progress. I think we gotta continue to build on the progress that was made, even though we will have difficulty getting further ahead.
“Social issues to return to the forefront on GOP trail”
That’s the title of an article in a recent edition of the Washington Post. It discusses the North Carolina legislation prohibiting men from using women’s bathrooms, Donald Trump’s dismissiveness of the issue, and Ted Cruz’s support of the Tarheel State’s commonsense efforts to sustain privacy and security in public accommodations.
What is striking about the article is its title. “Return to the forefront?” First, from the earliest days of the current presidential campaign to the present, social issues – protecting the unborn and their mothers, religious liberty, the radical agenda of LGBT activists, etc. – have been in the top tier of issues the candidates have been discussing.
The debate over the North Carolina measure, as well that over issues like dismemberment abortion and protecting the free exercise of religious conviction, are not sudden intrusions, as if unwelcome and unruly guests had burst into a sedate dinner party. These concerns are at the heart of the kind of country we want to be. Will we honor life at all its stages, uphold religious liberty as our most essential freedom, esteem marriage as the union of one man and one woman, for life, and strengthen families to better enable every child to be raised in a home with a mom and a dad? Or will we exalt radical sexual autonomy, continuously redefine human sexuality, treat the unborn as mere collections of blood and tissue and dehumanize their mothers through abortion-on-demand, and encourage the fracturing of families through laws that foster divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, and pornography?
Second, secular journalists seem perpetually amazed that issues like abortion and religious liberty are actual concerns of real people. It is natural that like-minded people talk mostly to others with the same perspectives and don’t engage as much with those whose outlook is fundamentally different than their own.
Yet over the past several decades, has it not become apparent that a massive, even preponderant number of Republican voters are socially conservative and that, as the country undergoes profound social turmoil, the convictions of these voters will inform what their party’s candidates discuss in their campaigns?
As Terry Mattingly has convincingly documented for many years, most reporters “don’t get religion.” Mike Cromartie, long-time director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum, has spoken of once being called by a journalist at a premier publication who “asked for the name of the author and publisher when Cromartie mentioned the book of Ephesians.”
Christians should not belittle journalists for their ignorance, but nor should journalists fail to recognize the significance of the traditional religious faith of tens of millions of their fellow citizens and its implications for American public life. As the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life documented in a study released last year, more than 70 percent of the American people identify as Christians and many Jews and Muslims carefully observe the tenets of their faiths.
Of course, not all of these self-identified believers share the same convictions about the doctrines and practices and political implications of their faiths. But faith does have implications, real and compelling ones, for one’s beliefs about and conduct regarding the kind of government we should have and the kind of culture we should be. To dismiss them or pretend they are inconsequential shows a certain contempt for one’s fellow citizens and a measure of intellectual dishonesty when reporting about law, politics, social life, and so forth.
Writing of that great 19th century French observer of our then-new republic, Alexis de Tocqueville, historian Alan Kahan argues that “Tocqueville rejected the militant secularism that saw religion as the enemy, and there is no reason to believe he would have changed his mind today. He rejected equally the claim of some religious people that freedom was the enemy of religion. For Tocqueville, the only way for either freedom or religion to prosper in the long run was by recognizing that they were mutually necessary, and mutually beneficial.”
When journalists, on television or in print or online or on the radio, miss this central insight – that religion and liberty are entwined not only in the fabric of our country but the hearts and hands of scores of millions of Americans – invariably they will be surprised by social issues that just keep “returning” to the fore of public concern.
And that should be no surprise to anyone.
This is the headline of the Associated Press story carried on the website of the NBC affiliate television station (KXAN) in Austin, Texas.
It’s about a woman named Dynel Lane, who slit open the womb of Michelle Wilkins and removed her unborn baby girl. The baby died shortly thereafter. According to the AP, “Lane is charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the March 2015 attack on Michelle Wilkins in Longmont (Colorado).”
Here’s the moral irony: “District Attorney Stan Garnett said earlier that prosecutors couldn’t charge Lane in the baby’s death because a coroner found no evidence the fetus lived outside the womb. That angered conservatives in the Colorado Legislature, who had previously tried but failed to enact a law making it a crime to kill a fetus. Colorado’s law against unlawful termination of a pregnancy was a compromise that stemmed from earlier debates on the issue.”
It’s a “fetus” until removed from the womb, right? No: She was a baby whether in or out of the womb. The only thing that changed was where she lived. For the first eight months of her life, the baby lived inside her mother. For a few hours, she lived outside of her mother’s womb.
Yet even the AP or NBC headline writer couldn’t admit to the ridiculous terminological gymnastics demanded by a society whose unwillingness to acknowledge the personhood of unborn children requires it to retain the embarrassing legal fiction known as the “fetus.”
The writer of the headline called the child what she was: A baby.
Why do advocates of abortion on-demand insist on using this obscure, dehumanizing term (“fetus”)? Because if they acknowledge the personhood of the unborn child, suddenly the unavoidable reality of what abortion is – the killing of a tiny child at his or her most vulnerable stage of existence – roars into full view. And that they must bypass at all costs, stepping around “baby” like it is a rhetorical and, more importantly, a moral landmine for their cause. Which, of course, it is.
For all their professed care for women, the predatory abortion industry has a sordid record. As FRC recently document with our allies at the American Center for Law and Justice in a Supreme Court legal brief, “No one expects to see an ambulance pulling away from a dermatology or dental office. Yet ambulances are a frequent sight at abortion facilities.”
But there has been good news over the past few days concerning babies (unborn, that is) in Wisconsin and Ohio:
• “(Wisconsin) Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills Thursday (February 18) that cut by several million dollars a year the amount of public money that goes to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin … One bill restricts how much Planned Parenthood can be reimbursed for prescription drugs, stripping it of an estimated $4 million a year, according to Planned Parenthood. A second measure is expected to cut another $3.5 million in government payments to Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions.”
Of note is that Walker signed the measures publically at a local pregnancy care center, one that provides life-affirming options for women and their unborn children.
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich also “signed legislation Sunday (February 21) to strip government money from Planned Parenthood in Ohio.” However, unlike Walker, “The governor did not sign the bill in public. His office made the announcement in a statement.”
At least, though, Kasich did sign the measure. According to LifeNews.com, “Planned Parenthood runs three abortion centers in the state and every Planned Parenthood clinic refers women for abortions.”
This comes after Ohio Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Mike DeWinefound, in December of last year, that “Fetal remains from three Planned Parenthood facilities in Ohio were sent to companies that then disposed of them in landfills in violation of state administrative rules.” Quoted in Reuters, DeWine said at the time, “Disposing of aborted fetuses from an abortion by sending them to a landfill is callous and completely inhumane. It is important the public be aware that these practices are taking place at these Ohio facilities.”
Parents.com features a wonderful site called, “What My Baby Looks Like.” In it, all 40 weeks of an unborn child’s development are portrayed and described.
And the site says, as plain as day, “What My Baby” – not “Fetus” – “Looks Like.”
To learn more about Planned Parenthood’s notorious abortion business and its ongoing harvesting of baby body parts, read the important new study, “Investigating Planned Parenthood and Research Using Aborted Babies,” by the Director of FRC’s Center for Human Dignity, Arina Grossu.
A recent study has revealed that kids who read the Bible growing up are more likely to continue in the faith as adults.
The study, called “Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith,” was conducted by LifeWay Research. It found that the biggest factor in predicting whether or not a child would continue in the faith as an adult after being raised in a Christian home was based on whether or not the child read the Bible regularly growing up.
Other factors which influenced whether or not a child grew up to be a practicing Christian were whether or not they spent time in prayer, whether or not they served in church, whether or not they listened to Christian music, and whether or not they participated in mission trips or projects.
Researchers surveyed 2,000 Protestant and nondenominational churchgoers for the study. The goal of the study was to learn what parents can do to encourage their children in the faith so that they will remain faithful as adults.
“Churchgoing parents want to pass on their faith to their kids—and to see their children make that faith their own,” said Scott McConnell, the executive director of LifeWay Research. “But they don’t always know how best to make that happen.”
Donald Trump loves evangelical voters, and they love him.
That much was clear on Friday, as the president basked in one standing ovation after another during his speech before the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC.
How the thrice-married New Yorker, despite his sometimes salty language, brash demeanour and documented boasts of sexual belligerency, has formed such an unlikely bond with social conservatives is a complicated question.
In the end, it comes down to power. Mr Trump has it – and, if he wants to keep it, he needs the support of the kind of social conservative activists who show up every year at the Omni Hotel to organise and preach about the need to restore Christian values in the US government.
For evangelicals, Mr Trump may be an unlikely vessel – but so far, he has delivered the goods.
“He’s not perfect, but his heart is in the right place,” said summit-attendee Teresa Ledesma, a health industry worker from Lansing, Michigan. “We believe him to be God’s champion. God needed a fighter, someone who was unapologetic. He’s gone into the lion’s den for us.”
God, flags and Merry Christmas
In his speech, the president offered a two-paragraph catechism for this newly minted alliance – a shared embrace of the “customs, beliefs and traditions that defined who we are as a nation and as a people”.
It includes protecting the “sacred dignity of every human life” (read: opposing legal abortion), observing traditional family values, defending religious freedom, honouring soldiers and law enforcement, and respecting our “great American flag”.
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Mr Trump followed it with a litany of promises he said he has kept to these religious voters.
He nominated a reliable conservative, Neil Gorsuch, to the Supreme Court. He loosened government mandates that health-insurance plans include free contraceptive coverage. He eased restrictions on political activities by religious organisations. He increased restrictions on government support for international organisations that provided family planning and abortion counselling.
And, drawing some of the biggest applause from the crowds, he said “we’re saying Merry Christmas again”.
“I could see right away that there was something in him, but I didn’t believe it could be as good as it’s been,” said Clifford Rice, a lawyer from Valparaiso, Indiana, who was attending his first Value Voters Summit.
It was just two years earlier when candidate Trump, seeking his party’s presidential nomination, stood before the summit and held up his childhood bible, telling the crowd: “I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian.”
A common enemy
Many were sceptical at the time, seeming more in tune with the Senator Ted Cruz, a preacher’s son from Texas, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – an actual Baptist minister – or Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has his own evangelical roots.
A straw poll after that year’s event had Mr Trump a distant fifth place – with only 5% of the vote.
Evident even then, however, was the anti-establishment fervour that had gripped much of the right, including social conservatives. They cheered, for instance, when they learned on the first day of the conference that House Speaker John Boehner had resigned.
Mr Trump would go on to become the voice of that anti-Washington anger and ride it to his party’s nomination – and the presidency. In fact, he would win a larger share of the evangelical vote (80%) than Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 (78%) or John McCain in 2009 (74%).
Now Mr Trump holds the highest political office in the land, but he’s not done railing against the political establishment. This time, it’s Senate Republicans who have been insufficiently supportive of his agenda – and social conservatives throwing their support fully behind him.
In an opinion piece in Breitbart News, the website of record for Trumpism, summit organiser Tony Perkins called Senate Republicans “the promise-breaking caucus”.
“We’ve been given an opportunity by God that not every generation has had; to turn the nation, to change the trajectory of this country and revive our Republican from the spiritual, moral and economic decay brought on by the radical policies of the left,” he writes.
In other words, it’s time to “make America great again” – with God’s help.
Missing from this year’s summit were any Republicans senators, in fact. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Cruz, Mr Rubio and South Carolina’s Tim Scott, who were once listed on the organiser’s website as possible speakers, were nowhere to be found.
The new face of the party
Instead, the line-up was dotted with Mr Trump’s team, present and past. Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway spoke on Friday. Former advisers Sebastian Gorka and Steve Bannon, considered the mastermind of Mr Trump’s ethno-nationalist populism, took the stage on Saturday.
One after another, they touted this administration’s efforts to advance issues dear to evangelical voters – and railed against a Washington establishment that they said was conspiring against their collective agenda.
It wasn’t too long ago that the leaders of this Washington establishment – the pro-trade, tax-cutting Wall Street fiscal conservatives and their big-business associates across the country – were the ones who broke bread with the evangelicals. It never was a completely comfortable alliance, and at times social conservatives groused that their issues took a back seat to other Republican concerns.
The ties held through the Ronald Reagan years, however, and appeared stronger than ever when born-again Christian George W Bush became president in 2001.
Now that Mr Trump is the top dog, however, it’s clear it was always a marriage of convenience – and if Mr Trump, for all his flaws, can deliver for them, that’s what matters. Even if it means the president is followed on the Values Voter stage by Bill Bennett, the former education secretary who has made a career of preaching the importance of personal morality on the part of US political leaders. Even if it means listening to Mr Bannon talk about kicking ass and going to war or Mr Gorka saying they would “damage” their left-wing opponents.
On Monday afternoon Mr Trump appeared with Mr McConnell in the White House Rose Garden and professed his “fantastic” relationship with most of the Republicans in the Senate.
“The Republican Party is very, very unified,” he said.
A more sincere expression of the president’s feelings about Republicans in Congress probably came earlier in the day, in comments to reporters during a presidential cabinet meeting.
“I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest,” he said. “They’re not getting the job done.”
If the Values Voter Summit is any indication, evangelical voters largely agree.
And when mid-term primaries and the general election roll around next year, a lot of Republican politicians who once counted on the support of social conservatives could come to the unpleasant realisation that the party they once knew has been remade in Mr Trump’s image.
Just this August, news came out that Tasha Cobbs, the ‘Break Every Chain’ singer, had featured American rapper, Nicki Minaj on her new album and ‘hail yeah’, the internet broke lose over it. For days on stretch, people talked about it, castigated themselves, outrightly called out each other on posts to come argue over it, and yes, got angry and cussed out themselves online and offline.
I watched as my brothers in the gospel shared their views and often than not, the ‘Judge not’ parlance was thrown up and down in many posts. The issue was indeed a sensation and I must say, it seems to be tops of what has broken the internet this year for days on stretch.
Without getting into the argument of whether or not what Tasha Cobbs did by featuring Nicki Minaj is right or wrong, let me take you into some deep truths in God over things like this.
I will kick off by letting you in on the fact that I am someone that has worked with many kinds of artistes – the ones you call secular and those you call gospel artistes. As always is the case with me, I usually want to get to the core of anything I am involved in. I have never liked the shallow sides of anything I get involved in. I have always preferred going deep into it to get to its root, objectives, etc. I understand that there is something behind everything. I go behind to see what that thing is so that when I come in front, I will see it as what it is, not as what it makes its self out to be or seem.
So, what’s up with the collaboration thingy between Tasha and Nicki?
I will tell you but before I do, we need to understand that Nicki is noted to have first called out to Tasha Cobbs two years ago after she watched Tasha’s performance on Sunday Best and had outrightly let Tasha know that she’d like to be featured on her album with the instagram post below:
“@tashacobbsleonard when you finish recording the album, come to my studio so I can put a 16 on one of these songs miss thing. Can’t wait for this to drop!”,Nicki wrote.
Obviously, Tasha took her up on it and BOOM, here we are with unarguably the biggest global debate this year in entertainment.
I tried dodging from this one but here I am with this #EnoughSaid piece on it. Why did I do so? Because I believe there is every need for us to have clarity about things like this.
For the fact that many people have said that only God has the final say in this issue, permit me to bring your notice to what God has put down with regards to the things we see today that confounds us like this.
Truth is, if Christians would only search scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit give them deep revelations of things like this, we would be more of spectators than agitators over what has been settled in God’s word already.
After being a spectator for days on end over this and desisting from speaking on it, this verse finally came to me; “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” – Matthew 24:15-16
Dear friend, do you know that these very words were spoken by Jesus? The next few paragraphs from LHT throws light into this:
Jesus Christ referred to the “abomination of desolation” in Matthew 24:15, mentioning it as a sign of the end time just before His return to the earth. Jesus’ reference was to a prophecy originally given to Daniel (Daniel 12:11).
“The Hebrew root for abomination is shaqats, which means ‘to be filthy,’ ‘to loath,’ ‘to abhor’” (“Abomination of Desolation,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). It is most often used to describe idolatrous worship practices, especially those most offensive to a sense of decency and morality. The New Testament equivalent means “detestable.” Albert Barnes adds that the phrase the abomination of desolation “is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer” (notes on Matthew 24:15). Biblical prophecy often includes more than one fulfillment of a particular statement, and this is certainly the case with Daniel’s prophecy. By looking at previous fulfillments, we can learn more about what to expect…
Dear friend, did you see the part that said that the abomination of desolation is something that is most offensive to a sense of decency and morality? Does this ring any bell around the image Nicki has portrayed so far and the argument people have about her not being the best choice for Tasha’s collabo?
Did you see that Jesus clearly said that the abominable would stand in the Holy Place and that this is a clear sign of His second coming? The interpretation of Daniel 9-11 is difficult and disputed, but it does have some fixed points, and the nature of the abomination that causes desolation is one of them.
Daniel 9:26-27 refers to a prince who will destroy the city (Jerusalem) along with its temple and sacrifices, “and on the wings of abominations shall come one who makes desolate.” Two chapters later there is another reference to an “abomination” in connection to the temple: “forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate” (11:31).
What this means is that before the one (the prince) who makes desolate comes, forces from him shall appear and profane the ‘temples’…
Are our bodies not God’s Temple? Ofcourse they are. Is our sister Tasha Cobbs God’s Temple? Yes she is. Do we feel she has stood with an abominable?
Before you go crucifying her, please do know that what Judas Iscariot did by betraying Christ was abominable but without his betraying Jesus, Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified and then we would not get to have salvation. Even Jesus told him to do what he had to do quickly. Why? So that scriptures would be fulfilled!
So, Tasha Cobbs featured Nicki and there is likelihood that other gospel artistes might do so too. Tell them to do it quickly, if they are the ones scripture says will be desecrated before the coming of the Lord, then let them do it for it will indeed be in fulfillment of the prophecy already written.
Indeed, we are in the last days. Everything God said would happen before the return of Christ. Dear Christian, why do we then fret and try to argue our soul out over issues like this? instead of fighting over these things, look at them from the place of God’s prophecy being fulfilled.
No matter how much the other disciples must have prayed to change Judas Iscariot’s deed of betraying Jesus, God wouldn’t have changed that. Judas was meant to do that so that prophesy would be fulfilled. God has the beginning and the end. Understand things from His superior point of view and rest your arguments.
One thing I implore all who believe in God to do is to try not to argue things from the present alone. It is best if we see things as God does. A lot of what we see today have been written in scriptures. When they occur, instead of arguing and cussing ourselves out, let’s allow the Holy Spirit show us where they stand in God’s word.
In Mathew 24:24, we are told that ‘For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, even the elect’. Are we aware that this is already happening amongst us? If we faint over these, how will we now cope when we see God’s elect deceived and when we see the desolation sit where it ought not to sit?
Let’s at all times see life through God’s revelation. Let’s lean not on our own understanding. Allow the wisdom of God to guide you in these things. His wisdom makes you see things as they truly are, devoid of error.
In all, KNOW YOUR GOD. Know God! When you do, no matter what you see happen, you will find peace in His wisdom and calm even in the face of the storms He said would come. Don’t hope on a gospel artiste, pastor or your friend and fall into desolation when you see them fall or do certain things that may or may not be in line with God’s will.
Many will fall and many other things will happen, all to fulfill scripture. As for you, stand…stand on God’s word and know your God. We really need to stop trying to put God in a box. What we see has already been written. Yes many will be reached with the gospel and this will be done even in the strangest of ways but one thing is sure, the gospel will spread through to all, even from the mouth of those whom we least expect and whether or not their intent was for God or not. If you are on the side of God Almighty, do realize that His is the supreme side. Even the abominable will all give way to His Truth. No need to fret, mehn. All you see today have already been written. Know thee the one who made it written without trying to make Him fit into the box of your own opinion or limited understanding.
***Philip Asuquotes is a strategy consultant and has been on the frontline in PR and Strategy consultancy for over 11years now. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org or @philasuquotes on Twitter or Instagram.***