No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar, nor under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, in order that those who enter may see the light. Luke 11:33
In a certain mountain village in Europe several centuries ago, so the story goes, a nobleman wondered what legacy to leave his townspeople. After much soul-searching, he decided to build them a church. Nobody saw the complete plans until the church was finished. When the people gathered, they marveled at its beauty. But one noticed an incompleteness.
Where are the lamps?” he asked. “How will the church be lighted?”
The nobleman smiled. Then he gave each family a lamp. “Each time you are here, the area in which you sit will be lighted. But when you are not here, some part of God’s house will be dark.”
Today we live in a world of rampant darkness, dim paths on which even our secular problem-solvers are visibly stumbling. In spite of AI (artificial intelligence) and its colossal accumulation of our advances in areas of academic, economic, medical, social, psychological, and even in spiritual enlightenment, all around us is evidence of our increasing ignorance, illiteracy, and wicked imaginings. Romans 2:19 tells us that we, as Christ Followers, are “a light to those who are in darkness.”
And humanly speaking, we tend to think the world is so big and our lamps are so small. Yes – bur we can light some small part of each day. Just look to the star struck heavens. How small each star looks in the distance. Yet, put together, those tiny jewels can light the darkest night. Each of us is a star (or a lamp, if you will). We can make this world a brighter place. It all begins with the desired expressed in Michelangelo’s prayer: “God, grant me the desire always to desire to be more than I can ever accomplish.”
Prayer: Father God, You are my lamp and may I always reflect Your love to the dark world as I journey through. I trust my life will be a radiant light guiding other people to You. I want to keep my lamp full of oil (empowered by Holy Spirit) so my path will be lit by Your glow. Amen
Action: Light your lamp. Allow God to send you in a new direction today. Meet someone at the crossroads of his or her life and share your light and oil.
Inspired by and adapted from Emilie Barnes Minute Meditations 1999
As always, even in Dalton and NE Ohio, time passes. We presume the electric will come back on again. A blackout from Saturday 12:40 PM until an estimated Wednesday 4 pm is not 40 years! Notice Ex. 15: 22-27 reveals it only took three days to find water that they now enjoyed. But now it’s been more than 40 days! I call that a serious test of time. There they were in the midst of the wilderness with their unrealistic expectations, much like we too often. “We thought we were through those parched days in the wilderness. We were already there three days. Why do we have to go back?“ Many in Wayne Holmes county are saying “Come on, we were just without power nearly a week last summer! Surely not again!”
And guess what? Out rushed the complaints from the freed slaves now in their liberation transition. “The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. (Ex 16:2) Why were they (or are we) grumbling? Again, is it because they (we) were looking back? Listen to their words in verse 4: “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hands in Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (v.3).
Sounds like our response? Perhaps, but we in Dalton are only momentarily inconvenienced. Perhaps it’s time for us all to learn a timeless lesson. If we focus on our past, the good old days, before this global reset, it won’t be long before complaints will start oozing from our lips, “for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:35) ESV
You will remember a long-ago time (perhaps a decade, not a century) when we bathed in the hazy rosy glow of memories, when living was simpler, easier, and more comfortable than it is today. For example, gas was only 29.9 cents for decades! As you with memory of such times compare life then to now, I guarantee you will grumble. If your age is under 50, not so much; and if you’re under 30, you may be clueless; unless you’ve been well parented, or grand-parented!
It hurts to endure life’s trials, and it hurts worse to repeat such episodes. Yet, without these deep hurts, we may have very little capacity to receive godly counsel or make progress forward to maturity. The test of time is perhaps our most rugged test of all.
Seriously now folks, over the perspective of what we need to prepare for this global reset and the imminent next lock-down, I believe God is honoring us through such trivial tests as no electric to awaken us out of our complacency. Stretching us. Breaking us. Crushing us. Reducing us to an absolute, open-armed trust, where we say in essence, “Lord, I have come to an end of my own flesh. If you wish me to die in this wilderness, here is my life. Take it. I refuse to look back and complain about where I am at this moment.” And then trust Him! How? For starters, Accept His Love. Share His Love. Live His Joy. Grow Your Fruit. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Satan’s Evil.
Moses had learned to wait for 40 years. Now his congregation needed to learn as well. How about us? I strongly urge each of you to search out and read your favorite Scriptural passages, especially I & II Peter, Martyr’s Mirror, Pilgrims Progress, and Letter to the American Church by Eric Metaxas. ASAP. Praise God for His divine continuing ed program! Learning from the past may be hard, but continuing in ignorance is expensive, time consuming and may jeopardize your eternal life assurance. Better to learn these priceless lessons today than to search for pennies in the scorching wilderness tomorrow.
Swindol’s devotional this morning really got me thinking. I well remember listening to him on the car radio in early ’81 while waiting for an appointment in Charlottesville. God was pointedly calling me thru Chuck’s words and I merely turned the radio off to avoid the confrontation. Similar event happened earlier with David Jeremiah in summer of ’73 while traveling thru Ft Wayne. Only two of the bigger mistakes of my life. I recall Bill Detweiler too. merlin
Here is a 139 page book; perhaps too little, too late, for mere man to enact the change necessary to revert the already sprung “tipping point” for the possible unwinding of western civilization we may be about to witness, but certainly not for God to exert His influence, perhaps even, just in time.
Strangely reminiscent of yesterday’s blog of our situational predicaments, such as Moses at the Red Sea that required 450 years to climax. The Egyptian media hawkers then reported their journey was merely days – being concluded with such a spectacular feat – and such that certainly nobody predicted their 40 year stint in a wilderness! Similarly, the American Church, as was Moses, is in similar straits as was the German Church, 90 years ago. And, again, some in the fray today understand events for centuries, or even BC, created this showdown between evil and righteousness, whereas the media hawkers are clueless that the third and final act of their play written merely decades ago, is nearly concluded. And if we’re lucky, we can all go out to celebrate our amazing accomplishments after the final curtain drops, before every man goes HOME, to his own tent. (Note: Moses led the original tent city assembly)
May I quote the last paragraph from my March 23 blog, “Does False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR) Cause Our Predicaments?” So, God provides us painful predicaments to arouse us from spiritual lethargy. Our predicaments are not punishment, as much as they are wake-up calls from a loving God. Envision pain as God’s fuel to restore His passion in our relationships ( includes the Church) because pain energizes us with an intensity to change that we normally just don’t possess. Lookup CS Lewis pain quote! These are serious times as you are about to learn below. Quoted verbatim.
Chapter Two: Does God Ask Us To See the Future?
As I have said, to understand where we are today in the American Church, we are obliged to see what happened to the Church in Germany in the 1930’s. Because I became closely familiar with that subject in writing my biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I have been troubled and astonished by the growing parallels for some time.
Most American Christians have some idea of the tragic blindness of the Church in Germany during the rise of Hitler, and likely know it “didn’t do enough” and somehow failed to stand. But exactly what didn’t they do that they might have done? And what did they do that they shouldn’t have done? Of course, our judging the German Church of that implies that we believe we would not have made the mistakes they did – and yet we are making those same mistakes now.
Perhaps because of the unprecedented size of the tragedies and horrors of that era, it is particularly tempting for us to put them in a separate category from anything that could happen anywhere else. Many of us have unwittingly adopted a tribalist and racist view of the Germans of that era, and attribute to them a unique level of evil, as though it has no bearing on us, nor can it ever have any bearing on us. But if we are Christians who believe in the doctrine of Original Sin, we know that our own intrinsic evil is perfectly equal to whatever we wish to attribute to the souls living in Germany in the 1930s. Therefore, we need to be more honest and ask how it was that they failed so spectacularly, knowing that we too can fail similarly – and are indeed this minute failing precisely as they failed.
So before we continue, we must dispense with the idea that we are for some reason incapable of allowing things to get to the point that the German Church did. That’s precisely why I am writing this book: Because what I see happening in the American Church today makes me understand that we are are wrong to think we would have acted differently if we were alive then precisely because we are not acting differently now.
As we approach the story of the German Church’s failures, we should do so not only with some humility, but with some humiliation. That’s because they did not have the benefit that we have – of actually seeing what happens when a church fails to stand. They did not have the example of what happened to them because it had not yet happened. But we do have that example and that grimmest of warnings, and so we are without excuse.
So what exactly did the German Church of that time fail to see? In a word: the future.
Christians are expected to see the future, or to listen to those who see it. We know that God is outside time; for Him the past, present, and future are equally easy to see. And we know that He has spoken through prophets who can, and often do, tell us what lies ahead, if we are interested in hearing it. So the real question is never whether we can see the future but whether we heed the warnings of the prophets who do. As we shall see, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a prophet to the German Church in the 1930s, although he wouldn’t have thought of himself in quite that way. But he spoke boldly and powerfully about where things stood in the German Church and about what must be done, and we know that the German Church did not take his warnings seriously and paid the gravest price imaginable.
But what if Bonhoeffer is a prophet for us today? Will the words that fell on deaf ears in his day fall differently on ours? Will we hear what he has to say, or rather, what God has to say through Him? Since we have the dramatic advantage of knowing what happened in Germany, will we take what he said to them more seriously than they did? Will you?
Part of what the German Church failed to see in 1932 or 1933, for example – when there was still time to act – was that their small actions or inactions were setting the course for their future. When God speaks through prophets like Bonhoeffer, He makes clear what lies ahead and gives us a clear choice. If we do X, Y will result, and if we don’t, then Z. But many German church leaders thought Bonhoeffer a bit of a young hothead – a brilliant intellectual to be sure, but one who was overstating what was at stake. And so, as people always do – and always with good intentions – most of the German Church simply ignored what he said and drifted along as it had always done. They didn’t feel the urgency that Bonhoeffer obviously felt and boldly spoke about. When they might have recognized where their actions were leading and changed course, they did not. It takes courage to stand athwart history and shout, “Stop!” It takes courage to understand that you must not do what everyone else is doing. Most of us rarely rise to such courage. But why and exactly how did the German Church ignore Bonhoeffer’s prophetic warnings?
To tell this story we must begin at the end of 1932, two months before Hitler became chancellor, when Bonhoeffer gave a certain sermon in a certain church in Berlin on November 6, 1932 – Reformation Sunday. To be continued in Chapter Three “Unless You Repent,” text from Revelation 2:4-5 “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first….
Accept His Love. Share His Love. Live His Joy. Grow Your Fruit. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Satan’s Evil. merlin
Predicaments are precarious time and energy black holes. Do you believe as I, that our predicaments are often of our own doing? Consider our use of the word accident, which though, also can be caused by our carelessness, we are frequently totally an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. Predicaments, however, add a stress tier beyond devastating accidents, in that they inject a gnawing awareness that you could have prevented this consuming predicament had you done whatever differently; and usually, there is no shortage of those “I wish I would have…!” And when these black holes drag out long enough, you may well question even, the very roots of your faith.
Is it possible fear (resulting from our stressors) arises from our personally concocted manufactured predicaments where we’ve drifted off course and gotten out of alignment both vertically with our Lord, and then, horizontally too, with our brothers in our community?
You ever think when such occurs, that we too tend to look for someone to blame for this flare-up predicament, just as the children of Israel did. And if it’s not readily apparent who to blame, we’ll provide the narrative to blame someone in the leadership hierarchy. Notice the stinging words told Moses in Exodus 14: 11-12: “Were there no graves in Egypt? Had it not been better for us to serve the Egyptians than we should die in this wilderness?”
Note Moses’ responses to their panic. First, “Fear ye not!” Second, “Stand still.” Third, “Watch.” Fourth, “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” How about that for a prescription for people caught between swords & spears to the rear and drowning going forward? Don’t be afraid, stand still, watch God come through, quit talking. Perhaps, the fourth is the hardest, because we just have to complain or tell somebody what pain we’ve been dealt. But God doesn’t need to be informed. He already knows our predicament. He is simply waiting for us to calm down and shut up, or at least, keep silent!
Notice God’s counsel is just the opposite. Don’t be afraid. Stand still. Watch Him work. Keep quiet. It’s then He does His best work on our behalf, and likely, quite the opposite way we’d done it.
I associate stress as being much like a mirror? Why? Because stress reveals what actually drives our thinking! The way we handle stressful predicaments defines and reveals who we are. Actually, pain is God’s fuel for re-discovering our “first love,” when we “drift” from our earlier “inspired” love, over to a more perfunctory love; acting out of duty, rather than with His passion.
So, God provides us painful predicaments to arouse us from our spiritual lethargy. Our predicaments are not punishment, as much as they are wake-up calls from a loving God. Envision pain as God’s fuel to restore His passion in our relationships because pain energizes us with an intensity to change that we normally just don’t possess.
Bottom Line Here? Accept His Love. Share Your Love. Live His Joy. Grow Your Fruit. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Satan’s Evil. Merlin
Inspired by readings from Moses in Exodus, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, Rick Warren & orchestrated by me. Whence ever cometh an original thought these days?
A few minutes ago, I was sent this blog post about Albert Einstein from my friend Wendell taken from Bill Federer’s AmericanMinute.com that I’d never seen. After submerged in the Metaxas book all day attempting chapter summaries, this Einstein clip came much as a delightful soothing dessert, after a hearty meal of Metaxas with too much to digest and ponder. Relax now, and breathe deeply. Some interesting dynamics here. Know God’s children have nothing to fear.
While a student at physics-mathematics section of the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Albert Einstein met Mileva Mariæ, whom he studied together with. She helped him with papers and articles, advancing his career. They eventually married in 1903. Albert and Mileva had a daughter, Lieserl, and two sons, Hans Albert and Eduard. Correspondence indicates she may have contributed materially to his early research, so much so, that after their divorce in 1919, he gave her the money from winning the Nobel Prize.
With a doctorate from the University of Zurich, Einstein wrote papers on electromagnetic energy, relativity, and statistical mechanics. Einstein predicted a ray of light from a distant star would appear to bend as it passed near the Sun. When an eclipse confirmed this, The London Times ran the headline, November 7, 1919, “Revolution in science – – New theory of the Universe — Newtonian ideas overthrown.”
In 1921, Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics, gaining international recognition. Einstein’s first visit to the United States was to raise funds for Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. On his 3rd visit, 1932, he took a post at Princeton University. When the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazi) took control of Germany, they barred Jews from holding official positions or teaching at universities. Einstein stayed in the United States, becoming a citizen in 1940.
Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels proclaimed “Jewish intellectualism is dead” and burned books by Jewish authors, including Einstein’s works. Jewish poet Heinrich Heine prophetically penned in 1822: “Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too.”
A current instance of this was reported in the Breitbart News article “ISIS Burns Books at Mosul Libraries” (February 5, 2015): “The Islamic State … raided the Central Library of Mosul to destroy all non-Islamic books. These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah,’ announced a militant to the residents. ‘So they will be burned.’ Militants targeted the library at the University of Mosul. They burned science and culture textbooks in front of the students.”
Concern is growing over recent anti-Semitic comments made by politicians and radical campus groups, which forebode a resurgence of Jewish persecution. A FoxNews headline (3/8/19) read: “Failure to condemn anti-Semitic Rep. Omar by House Democrats is a profile in cowardice.”
Commenting on socialist redistribution of wealth, Albert Einstein stated: “I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure individuals is the only thing that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds … Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the moneybags of Carnegie?”
Einstein’s theory of relativity, E=MC2, is “energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.” It is the basis for applying atomic energy. Berkeley Lab published the article (9/23/20) “CERN’s Large Hadron Collider Creates Matter From Light”:
“The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) plays with Albert Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2, to transform matter into energy and then back into different forms of matter. But on rare occasions, it can skip the first step and collide pure energy – in the form of electromagnetic waves. Last year, the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s LHC observed two photons, particles of light, ricocheting off one another and producing two new photons.
This year, scientists have taken that research a step further and discovered photons merging and transforming into something even more interesting: W bosons, particles that carry the weak force, which governs nuclear decay….
The research doesn’t just illustrate the central concept governing processes inside the LHC: that energy and matter are two sides of the same coin.
It also confirms that at high enough energies, forces that seem separate in our everyday lives – electromagnetism and the weak force – are united.”
Describing the theory of relativity, that the closer one approaches the speed of light time slows down, Albert Einstein said:
“When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute — and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.”
Albert was married to his cousin, Elsa, from 1921 till her death in 1936. His accountant, Leo Mattersdorf of New York, wrote (TIME Magazine, 1963): “One year while I was at his Princeton home preparing his return, Mrs. Elsa Einstein, who was then still living, asked me to stay for lunch. During the course of the meal, the professor (Einstein) turned to me and with his inimitable chuckle said: ‘The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.'”
Einstein’s warning that Nazis could create the atom bomb led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to set up the Manhattan Project.
In November of 1952, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion asked Einstein to be Israel’s 2nd President, but he declined due to age, dying less than 3 years later. Being “deeply moved” by the offer, Einstein replied:
“My relationship with the Jewish people became my strongest human tie.”
The periodic table’s 99th element, discovered shortly after his death in 1955 was named “einsteinium.”
Albert Einstein was quoted in The New York Times, November 9, 1930, saying:
“I assert that the cosmic religious experience is the strongest and noblest driving force behind scientific research.” Paraphrasing Miguel de Cervantes’ quote “I do not believe that the Good Lord plays dice,” Einstein stated:
“God Almighty does not throw dice.” He added: “Before God we are all equally wise — equally foolish.”
In Einstein and the Poet: In Search of the Cosmic Man (1983), William Hermanns recorded Einstein’s 1943 statement:
“Creation may be spiritual in origin, but that doesn’t mean that everything created is spiritual … Let us accept the world is a mystery. Nature is neither solely material nor entirely spiritual. Man, too, is more than flesh and blood; otherwise, no religions would have been possible. Behind each cause is still another cause … Yet, only one thing must be remembered: there is no effect without a cause, and there is no lawlessness in creation.”
As recorded by Helen Dukas in Albert Einstein, The Human Side (Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 66), Einstein stated:
“My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality.
Morality is of the highest importance — but for us, not for God.”
Einstein stated in an interview published in G.S. Viereck’s book Glimpses of the Great, 1930:
“I’m absolutely not an atheist … The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”
Walter Isaacson quoted Einstein in the article “Einstein and Faith,” Time 169, April 5, 2007, 47):
“The fanatical atheists … are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle.
They are creatures who — in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’ — cannot bear the ‘music of the spheres.'”
Einstein’s referenced to the “music of the spheres” is a religious concept used through the Medieval- Renaissance period to describe an orbital resonance of the planets.
Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, compared the eight planets in the solar system to the eight notes in music – an octave.
Kepler wrote in The Harmonies of the World, 1619: “Holy Father, keep us safe in the concord of our love for one another, that we may be one just as Thou art with Thy Son, Our Lord, and with the Holy Ghost, just as through the sweetest bonds of harmonies Thou hast made all Thy works one, and that from the bringing of Thy people into concord, the body of Thy Church may be built up in the Earth, as Thou didst erect the heavens themselves out of harmonies.”
Yale professor Benjamin Silliman, who founded the American Journal of Science and Arts in 1818, stated:
“The relation of geology, as well as astronomy, to the Bible, when both are well understood, is that of perfect harmony … The Word and the works of God cannot conflict, and the more they are studied the more perfect will their harmony appear.”
According to Prince Hubertus (Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times, New York: World Publishing Company, 1971, p. 425), Einstein stated:
“In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”
Einstein wrote to M. Berkowitz, 1950, (William Hermanns, Einstein and the Poet. In Search of the Cosmic Man, Brookline Village MA: Branden Books, 1983, p. 60):
“‘God‘ is a mystery. But a comprehensible mystery. I have nothing but awe when I observe the laws of nature. There are not laws without a lawgiver, but how does this lawgiver look? Certainly not like a man magnified.”
Though not believing in a personal God, The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929, published George Sylvester Viereck’s interview with Albert Einstein.
When asked “To what extent are you influenced by Christianity,” Einstein answered: “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”
When asked “Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus,” Einstein replied:
“Emil Ludwig’s Jesus is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrase mongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot! (witty remark)”
When asked “You accept the historical existence of Jesus,” Einstein answered:
“Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”
In 1931, astronomer Edwin Hubble invited Einstein to the Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena, California. After viewing the “red shift” of distant stars revealing an expanding universe, Einstein remarked
“I now see the necessity of a beginning.”
Princeton University’s Fine Hall has inscribed Albert Einstein’s words above the fireplace:
“Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber Boshaft ist er nicht.” (God is clever, but not dishonest.)
Download as PDF … Albert Einstein “I observe the Laws of Nature … There are not Laws without a Lawgiver”
Read as American Minute blog post.
Accept His Love. Share His Love. Live His Joy. Grow His Fruit. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Satan’s Evil. merlin
Can it really be God’s will that His children be silent at a time like this? Decrying the cowardice that masquerades as godly meekness, Eric Metaxas summons the Church to battle.
The author of a bestselling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Metaxas reveals the haunting similarities between today’s American Church and the German Church of the 1930s. Echoing the German martyrs’ prophetic call, he exhorts his fellow Christians to repent of their silence in the face of evil.
An attenuated and unbiblical “faith” based on what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace” has sapped the spiritual vitality of millions of Americans. Paying lip service to an insipid “evangelism,” they shrink from combating the evils of our time. Metaxas refutes the pernicious lie that fighting evil politicizes Christianity. As Bonhoeffer and other heroes of the faith insisted, the Church has irreplaceable role in the culture of a nation. It is our duty to fight the powers of darkness, especially on behalf of the weak and vulnerable, well beyond the widow, orphan
Silence is not an option. God calls us to defend the unborn, to confront the lies of cultural Marxism, and to battle the globalist tyranny that crushes human freedom. Confident that this is His fight, the Church must overcome fear and enter the fray, armed with the spiritual weapons of prayer, self-sacrifice, love, and focused on being the obedient, forgiven, transformed, empowered discipling Bond Servants of Jesus Christ until death permits retirement.
Eric Metaxas, author of fourteen books, including Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy;Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery; and If You Can Keep It:The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty.
I have written this book because I am convinced the American Church is at an impossibly – and almost unbearably – important inflection point. The parallels to where the German Church was in the 1930s are unavoidable and grim. So the only question – and what concerns us in this slim volume – is whether we might understand those parallels, and thereby avoid the fatal mistakes the German Church made during that time, and their superlatively catastrophic results. If we do not, I am convinced we will reap a whirlwind greater than the one they did.
The German Church of the 1930s was silent in the face of evil; but can there be any question whether the American Church of our own time is guilty of the same silence? Because of this, I am compelled to speak out, and say what – only by God’s grace – I might say to make plain where we find ourselves at this moment, at our unavoidably crucial crossroads in history.
It is for good or for ill that America plays an inescapably central role in the world. If you have not read Alexis de Tocqueville on this subject, you likely nonetheless understand that the extent to which that central role has been used for the good and God’s purposes has had everything to do with our churches, or with the American Church, as we may call her. So if America is in any way exceptional, it has nothing to do with the blood that runs through American veins and everything to do with the blood shed for us on Calvary, and the extent to which we have acknowledged this. America has led the world in making religious liberty paramount, knowing that this is only with a deep regard for it that we may speak of liberty at all. It was this that made Tocqueville marvel most: that while in other nations – and especially in his own nation of France – the Church was adamantly opposed to the idea of political liberty, in America it was the churches that helped, encourage, create, and sustain a culture of liberty.
Because of the outsized role America plays in the world today, the importance of whether we learn the lesson of what happened to the German Church ninety years ago cannot be overstated. Though it may be a gruesome thing to consider, the monstrous evil that befell the civilized world precisely because of the German Church’s failure is likely a mere foretaste of what will befall the world if the American Church fails in a similar way at this hour.
And at present we are failing.
We should underscore the idea that the centrality of our nation in the world does not mean that we are intrinsically exceptional, but rather that God has sovereignly chosen us to hold the torch of liberty for all the world, and that the Church is central to our doing this. So the idea that He has charged us with this most solemn duty should make us tremble. Nonetheless, we must carry out that duty in a way that is the opposite of prideful and that is meant to be an invitation to all beyond our shores. If we should aspire – in the words of Jesus, as quoted by John Winthrop – to be a ”shining city on a hill,” the idea is that we should exist and shine for the sake of others and not for ourselves alone.
President Abraham Lincoln said that we in America were God’s “almost chosen people,” and acknowledged this placed upon us an almost unbearable burden. It is certainty from the Scriptures and from our experience over the centuries that apart from God we can do nothing. So if God has chosen us for some task, we must do all we can to shoulder that task, and must know more than anything that unless we lean on Him and acknowledge Him in all our ways, we are guaranteed to fail.
We must also remind ourselves that when God chooses anyone – whether the nation of Israel or a single person – to perform any role or any task, it is never to be celebrated, as though the one chosen has won a contest. So if the Lord Almighty has chosen America and the American Church to stand against the evils and deceptions of this present darkness, we had better be sure we understand what is required of us, and had better make sure we do all that is possible to fulfill our charge.
Throughout this book I will touch on some issues we are facing, but let us say here that it is something almost unprecedented: the emergence of ideas and forces that ultimately are at war with God Himself. It’s easy to see this with regard to Germany in the 1930s, when we think of death camps and the murder of so many millions, but we need to understand that in the beginning they had no idea where it was leading, and had no idea they were facing nothing less than the forces of the anti-Christ. We are now facing those same forces in different guises. But the extent of it is even worse than it was ninety years ago, because these forces today do not have an agenda that is hyper-nationalistic, as in Germany, but that is actually anti-nationalistic – which is to say that is the globalist agenda.
These ideas seemed to have emerged lately, but they have been growing quietly in our midst and we have not taken them seriously enough. Many have been fooled into thinking them essentially harmless. We are today like the proverbial frog in the saucepan, simmering along and never realizing that unless we see our situation and leap out now, we are very soon to be cooked and beyond all leaping. The ideas and forces we face have an atheistic Marxist ideology in common, although it never declares itself as such. It knows that doing this would wake up many people who are still asleep, and that would ruin everything.
But what we must dare to see is that these many ideas share a bitter taproot that leads all the way to Hell. Critical Race Theory – which is atheistic and Marxist – and radical transgender and pro-abortion ideologies are all inescapably anti-God and anti-human. So they are dedicatedly at war with the ideas of family and marriage, and with the idea of America as a force for good – as a force for spreading the Gospel and Gospel values throughout the world. These atheistic ideas have over many decades infiltrated our own culture in such a way that they touch everything, and part of what makes them so wicked is that they smilingly pretend to share the biblical values that champion the underdog against the oppressor. As Stalin and Hitler and Mao would butcher millions in the name of fighting for “the people,” so these forces do the same and are angling to do much, much more of the same – if we will allow them the time to strengthen themselves, if we do not fight with all our might against them right now.
One of the principal ways in which they have gained strength is in persuading so many in the American Church that to fight them is to abandon the “Gospel” for pure culture warring or for politics. This is not just nonsense, but it is a supremely deceptive and satanic lie, designed only to silence those who would genuinely speak for truth. So those who behave as though there is nothing to worry about, who seem to think – as such prominent pastors as Andy Stanley and others do – that we ought to assiduously avoid fighting these threats and be “apolitical” are tragically mistaken, are burying their heads in the sand and exhorting others to do the same. Or to put it another way, they are in their churches singing more and more loudly to drown out the cries of those in the boxcars heading to their gruesome deaths. Sing with us, they say, and don’t worry about all of those other issues out there. They don’t concern us. Our job is to focus on God, and to pretend that we can do so without fighting for those He loves, whose lives and futures are being destroyed.
So to restate our situation, this is not a task or duty we in the American Church have asked for. Nonetheless, just as the German Church had a painfully important task and did not rise to that occasion to perform it, so we have a painfully important task, whether we have asked for it or not. God calls us to do something, but the choice whether we do it is entirely ours. Because we are made in God’s image, we are perfectly free, and therefore cannot be compelled to do what is right. It is a chilling prospect, especially in light of the failure of the German Church.
If anyone would feel that believing God has chosen the American Church for such a vital role somehow smacks of an egotistical nationalism, they have already bought into the Marxist and globalist lie that America is nothing special – or is probably a force for evil at this point. In any case, they miss the point and have only leapt away from one ditch to fall headlong into another. It is a fact that God in His sovereignty chose the German Church to stand against the evils of its day, but it shrank from acknowledging this and from standing. Germany has been living with deep shame over it unto this day. So for the American Church to say that God has not chosen us is as bad as saying He must choose because we deserve to be chosen. Both stances are equally guilty of the sin of pride. It is far easier to ignore God’s call than to acknowledge it and rise to fulfill it, but it is more difficult and painful than anything to live with the results of ignoring God’s call. Let the reader understand.
Table of Contents
Ch. 1 What Is the Church?
Ch. 2 Does God Ask Us to See the Future?
Ch. 3 “Unless You Repent”
Ch. 4 “The Church and the Jewish Question”
Ch. 5 12,000 Pastors
Ch. 6 The Spiral of Silence
Ch. 7 Two Errors of Faith
Ch. 8 The Church Paralyzed
Ch. 9 The Idol of Evangelism
Ch.10 Speaking the Truth in Love
Ch. 11 Be Ye Not Political
Ch. 12 Who Do You Say God Is?
Ch. 13 The Parable of the Talents
Ch. 14 Justifying Ourselves
Ch. 15 “Religionless Christianity”
Ch. 16 The Final Push
Accept His Love. Live His Joy. Grow His Fruit. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Satan’s Evil. merlin
So often you and I miss the opportunity to watch the Lord work in mighty and miraculous ways. Why? Because instead of “standing still” and watching Him pull off our deliverance, we seek out the carnal alternative. We prefer the backdoor escape, a fleshy shortcut.
Notice how God handled His man, Moses. Without rebuke, the Lord gave Moses two pieces of counsel. One related to his person; the other related to his work. He told Moses who He was, and then He told him what He was going to do. And the order in the Lord’s response is as important as the facts themselves.
Right off the top, He repeated the message from the burning bush, saying, “I am” five different times in Exodus chapter six.
“I am the Lord…” (v, 2).
“I am the Lord…” (v. 6).
“I am the Lord…” (v. 7).
“I am the Lord…” (v. 8).
“I am the Lord…” (v. 29).
Time after time, He punctuated His message to Moses by saying, “Look, Moses, your eyes are in the wrong place (again). Get your eyes back on me (again). Remember, who I am (again),” (Perhaps today we should also include our ears! Actually, all of our senses, or, how will we ever even experience His goodness, not to mention, remembering in the future!)
Who is the Lord? Ask the prophet Isaiah. Troubled and sick at heart over the moral condition of his nation, Isaiah glanced toward the sky one day and “saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up” (Isaiah 6:1NKJV). That’s all he needed to see. He fixed his eyes on the Lord, and, suddenly his perspective changed.
If you have been a believer for any length of time, you will have heard these over and over. But that’s all right; here they are again. Think you’ll get it? Until your eyes are fixed on the Lord, you will not be able to endure those days that go from bad to worse. The abovetaken from Chuck Swindoll’s Great Days With the Great Lives pg. 77.
FYI, understandably, I struggle with choosing pertinent worthy material insuring we’re each prepared to transition well spiritually in the coming days, which may well not be pretty or pleasant. I am not nearly as concerned for how we fare physically, financially, emotionally, materially, etc. for I believe if our identity, faith and hope is in Christ, what can we suffer or can really be done to us, to separate us from His love and our eternal inheritance?
Since early ’23, I depend solely on God to nudge me to select what I post from my daily readings of scripture, the dozen or so books I’m processing at any given time, and what is sent me by friends. No nudges, no posts. Recently, God has given me a sense of urgency that sometimes is overwhelming. As you, I too encounter distinct Spirit nudges to move out, and when I obey, what joy, not only for me but also for the recipient, often even greater!
I think frequently back when the Henry Blackaby book “Experiencing God” flowed through the church in the late 80’s admonishing us to find where God was at work and join in that work rather than being lone rangers. Similarly, of late, Jamie Winship’s two questions that encourage we seekers and ambassadors to ask, whenever we are faced with either the mundane, or the overwhelming trials and tribulations of life’s messes, that nearly take our breath away, and they are: 1.) Lord, what do you want me to know about this situation; and 2.) Lord, what do you want me to do about this situation? And then wait for his wisdom. Of course, as the Good Samaritan, you arise to the occasion and administer first aid, CPR, stop the bleeding, transport to safety, etc., all the while praying for His divine intervention in knowing and doing!
At any rate, Chuck Swindoll was the inspiration yesterday that begat this: “I am the Lord. Your eyes are in the wrong place! Until your eyes are fixed on the Lord, you will not be able to endure those days that will go from bad to worse.”
Next, I read Day 9 in What On Earth Am I Here For that instilled a new appreciation for Noah, and I don’t think I’m alone among today’s seeker and ambassador crowd. I can think of a few similarities we may share, all except for his timeline of 120 years to endure ridicule is beyond possibility, yet for today’s humanity, but even 120 days seems preposterous. We are told “by faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and he acted on what he was told…. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.” Hebrews 11:7.
Noah had three major reasons to think this assignment ridiculous. First, Noah had never seen rain, because prior to the flood, the earth was irrigated from the ground up. Second, since Noah lived hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, did his building permit declare his boat to be a novel home, or did it only appear to be designed for water travel? Perhaps, it was a precursor to an RV for a subconscious retirement desire to travel offering others mission trip experiences? Such excuses we might have concocted for our neighbors. And third, what about the animals; the rounding them up and caring for them? With no sign of rain year after year, he was ruthlessly criticized as a “crazy man who thinks God speaks to him.” Can you just hear the media today?
In what areas of our lives, or for me with this blog, do we need to trust God completely, if we are to see and hear the “I am the Lord today? Is trusting a preliminary to worship? Just as parents are pleased when children trust their love and wisdom, so does our faith make God happy. The Bible says “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6. God smiles when we obey Him wholeheartedly. Noah was given very specific instructions as to the size, shape, and materials of the ark as well as the different numbers of animals to be brought on board. The Bible tells us Noah’s response: “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded Him.” Gen 6:22 NLT, Heb 11:7b NCV. Notice that Noah obeyed completely, no instruction was overlooked; and he obeyed exactly in the way and time God wanted it done. It is no wonder God smiled on Noah. So the question is, am I being faithful to my instructions to declare truth, or, am I hiding out in my fabricated excuses?
Even former President John F Kennedy quoted the heart of the Luke 12:48. Perhaps for the big picture, we should begin in verse 47 “And this servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (48) But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
The Message offers 47-48 as “The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” Consider this: if we’re soon without shoes, and the shoe fits, will we even wear them? More questions than answers today!
Accept His Love. Live His Joy. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Evil. merlin
Gary Bauer, Senior Vice President of Public Policy
This is included today only FYI. To be on the JDFI email list, add email@example.com to your contacts or Safe Sender List to insure delivery to your inbox.
Another FYI today, since there are a few folks who believe we’re getting too political here. My simple answer is just because we answer to a higher calling, and a higher standard of truth and righteousness, does not mean we’re not to be involved in the life of our nation and our world, for that is where the church is… Yet, So Get Ready!
Is it conceivable that Christians could be banned from teaching in public schools? Some radical secularists have advocated for it. Now, a school board in Arizona has gone a step further. The Washington Elementary School District, serving students in the Phoenix area, just cancelled a contract the district had with Arizona Christian University (ACU). The contract made it possible for ACU’s student teachers to be placed in local schools for “field experience.”
There were no complaints from parents or students about the arrangement, which has been in place for five years. Then some school board members read ACU’s website where they found a mission statement that said the university is “committed to Jesus Christ – accomplishing His will and advancing His kingdom on earth as in heaven.” The university also stated that it believed in “the centrality of family …traditional sexual morality and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman.”
That simple statement of biblical belief was too much for the three members of the board who identify as LGBTQ+. The effort to cancel the contract was led by board member Tamillia Valenzuela, who describes herself as “a bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent Queer Black Latina.” She attends board meetings wearing cat ears. Another board member attacked Arizona Christian University for “teaching with a biblical lens.”
ACU has now filed a lawsuit represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The lawsuit asserts: “This civil rights action seeks to protect a Christian university and its students’ fundamental rights to religious exercise and speech, and to be free from unlawful governmental discrimination simply because of their religious status and beliefs … Despite there being zero complaints about an Arizona Christian student teacher or alumnus, the School District decided to terminate its relationship with Arizona Christian and its students solely because of their religious status and beliefs on biblical marriage and sexuality.”
If history is any guide, what started in this school district will not stay in that school district. This outrage is a perfect example of what Dr. James Dobson and our team has argued for years. Someone’s values win. America once universally welcomed morally upright men and women to teach in our public schools. Today, there is increasing hostility to Christian teachers and acceptance of radical teachers who are exposing children to inappropriate LGBTQ propaganda.
This is a good time to remember the importance of voting, going to school board meetings and taking every initiative you can to save your children and grandchildren.
Biden Budget Disaster
James Dobson Family Institute (JDFI) does not usually weigh in on the, sometimes, arcane budget battles in Washington, D.C. But we cannot ignore the budget proposal just unveiled by the Biden administration. From economic policy to social policy impacting faith, family and freedom, the budget is a disaster.
Biden’s budget includes, what even the pro-Biden Washington Post called, “unprecedented tax hikes” of five trillion dollars. The administration claims taxes have to be increased because our national debt is growing. But the same budget does not decrease the national debt – it increases it another $20 trillion over the next 10 years. That means President Biden is proposing major tax hikes and major new spending. In fact, the budget is 40% bigger than the last budget before COVID! All of this new debt will be left to our children and grandchildren to deal with. That amounts to an immoral generational transfer that will destroy their economic hopes and dreams.
Under the budget, big government grows even bigger and more powerful, while everything else, including economic growth, will get smaller. One of JDFI’s priorities is stopping America’s drift away from free enterprise and toward the “dead hand of smothering big government socialism.” This budget takes that disturbing trend and puts it on steroids. The IRS alone will get 86,000 new agents!
The priorities in the budget are also distorted. In a computer analysis of its 184 pages, the police are only mentioned four times, during a time when America is experiencing a nation-wide crime wave. Unbelievably, words like “transgender” (8 times), “intersex” (7 times) and the offensive slur “queer” (7 times) are all used more often, reflecting the Biden administration’s commitment to pushing the radical “52 genders” woke agenda.
How about our veterans? The budget includes $137.9 million for the Department of Veteran Affairs, but bizarrely sets part of the money aside for “providing gender-affirming care to the nation’s veterans,” including sex change operations. At a time when homelessness impacts many veterans, are sex change operations really a top priority?
Of course, the budget does have its “fans.” One of the most powerful supporters is Planned Parenthood, the nation’s top abortion provider. Biden calls for providing them another $1.2 billion of your hard-earned tax dollars for their “vital” work of abortion on demand. This budget will be and should be “dead on arrival.” America can do a lot better.
Biden HHS Attacks Rights of Conscience – Pro-Life Members of Congress Fight Back
Unfortunately, the Biden administration continues to be obsessed with keeping the number of abortions performed in the U.S. as high as possible. Fortunately, 25 pro-life senators and representatives are fighting back.
Biden’s regulators have proposed a new rule that threatens to erase the conscience protections that prevent medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions. The proposed rule states, “our health care systems must effectively deliver services, including safe, legal abortions, to all who need them in order to protect patients’ health and dignity.” Predictably, the “health and dignity” of the innocent preborn child, who will be dismembered or scalded with powerful chemicals, is not mentioned.
The Biden administration’s proposed rule is morally repugnant and also likely violates federal conscience statutes that have been passed by Congress, including the Conscience Protection Act.
The pro-life members of Congress, led by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) and Senator James Lankford (R-OK), along with Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) in the House of Representatives, have filed a public letter with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), demanding they “enforce all conscience protections” Congress has passed. The senators remind Biden’s HHS bureaucrats that those statutes protect all medical professionals from performing or assisting in any health care services, procedures or research to which “they may object for religious, moral, ethical, or other reasons.”
JDFI believes this battle over the “conscience rights” of Christians and people of other faiths should be a wake-up call to the Church. This attack on conscience safeguards along with the continued effort to force all taxpayers to subsidize abortions, euthanasia and radical gender surgeries is a direct attack on our basic liberties and freedom of religion.
JDFI is working diligently to encourage additional pro-life members of Congress to sign the letter. Those who have currently signed include: Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman(R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Jim Risch(R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Jim Banks (R-IN), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Harris (R-MD), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH).
Gary Bauer’s New Podcast, “Defending Faith, Family, and Freedom”
Listen to Gary Bauer’s new podcast, “Defending Faith, Family, and Freedom” on our website or on your favorite platform, including Google, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. Click the button below to subscribe. Every episode will help you stay informed and engaged on the policy and cultural issues that matter most to you and your family.
This is included today only FYI to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts or Safe Sender List to insure delivery to your inbox.
Accept His Love. Live His Joy. Embrace His Peace. Share His Hope. Refute Evil…... merlin
Both documents below are FYI on this blog’s designated Political Wednesday without comment. merlin
A stunning revelation from the Restoration of America (ROA) Political Action Committee (PAC) is exposing a new scam by the Democrats to harvest votes. The way this is reportedly being done is through non-profit groups.
Democrats have found a way to sign people up behind the scenes via non-profits, even though non-profit groups are not allowed to have any partisan leanings.
Here’s How It’s Being Done
The report from Restoration of America comes in two parts. It digs deep into how the Democrats are using 501c3 non-profit groups to sign people up who will likely vote Democratic.
Non-profits are barred by US law from engaging in partisan activities or checking who somebody will vote for before registering them.
However, groups like the Center for Voter Information and Voter Participation Center simply go sign people up that they know will almost definitely vote Democratic, based on the groups they’re in.
CVI and VPC already mailed out almost 86 million mailers to 32 states ahead of the 2022 midterms to boost the vote, especially states that were hoped to turn left, like Pennsylvania and Georgia.
As the ROA report notes, both of these groups use “microtargeting techniques” to find out where members of non-profits live to send them mailers and outreach.
They then target those in districts that need more votes to flip the districts or other key races like the Senate.
Digging Deeper Into the Fraud
Digging deeper into this backhanded scheme, we see a lot of shady stuff emerge. One influential PAC called Mind the Gap, for example, was started by the mom of former FTX head Sam Bankman-Fried.
This individual, Barbara Fried, helped use her PAC to get rich leftists to funnel their money into groups like CVI and VPC. Fried promised people this could net up to 500% more votes for them for the same amount of money.
This shows that funneling money towards CVI and VPC and other groups isn’t just some innocent support of “democracy” and signing people up.
Wealthy donors and Democratic PACs know what’s happening; voters are being systematically targeted and reached if they are likely to vote blue. This is their strategy and the right had better wake up before they get a permanent stranglehold on elections.
Can This Be Stopped?
Stopping this kind of sneaky fraud is difficult to do. That’s because these kinds of leftist groups are getting around the IRS ban by finding backdoor ways to geographically target voters and sign them up.
Suing federally can’t work because they aren’t technically violating IRS rules. Though suing at the state level is possible and eventually, this issue seems likely to reach the Supreme Court as well.
The Bottom Line
We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball. Dirty Democratic tricks are constantly increasing, especially as we head into 2024.
This article appeared in FreshOffThePress and has been published here with permission.
Every President Needs a Voice of Dissent – Does Joe Biden Have One?
This is an account of another American who, like Daniel Ellsberg, did the right thing at the right time in the middle of a war. But unlike Ellsberg’s, his act of courage did not make the headlines, and he suffered little for it. His name is George W. Ball. He was a Midwestern lawyer who did not politically support John F. Kennedy in his 1960 presidential campaign and did not serve bravely or endure violence during World War II. But he had played a key role in the American postwar rebuilding of Europe and was appointed early in 1961 as an undersecretary of state in the Kennedy Administration. His main task was to deal with international economic and agricultural affairs.
Ball had directed the American postwar bombing survey in London at the end of the war. He understood, as the survey had shown, that the intense daytime bombing of German cities had not destroyed morale, as had been assumed, but had increased citizen support for the Nazi regime—and perhaps extended the duration of the war. Ball would later be the only senior Kennedy Administration official who directly warned the president of the dangers of committing American soldiers to the Vietnam War, as had been recommended by his generals. In his 2000 book Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975, A.J. Langguth, who covered the war for the New York Times, recounted Ball’s gutsy warning in late 1961 to the president: “If we go down that road we might have, within five years, 300,000 men in the rice paddies of the jungles of Vietnam and never be able to find them.”
In a 1982 memoir, Ball recalled Kennedy’s irritated response: “George, you’re just crazier than hell. That just isn’t going to happen.” Back in his office, Ball told an aide, “We’re heading hell-bent into a mess and there’s not a goddamn thing I can do about it. Either everybody else is crazy or I am.”
Ball, who had worked with and supported Adlai Stevenson, the liberal former governor of Illinois, in two failed presidential campaigns in the 1950s, was disdained by many of the tough-minded and tough-talking war planners inside the administration not as a truth teller but as a “dove.”
Kennedy had been shaken by his early failure to oust Fidel Castro, Cuba’s communist leader, in the first months of his administration and a brutal summit meeting weeks later with a dismissive Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. He would make a stand in South Vietnam. In 1962 he also chose to become the first American president to try to thwart what Washington saw as the Soviet Union’s ambitions to weaponize its enormous reservoirs of oil and natural gas. Russia had announced its intention to build a 2,500-mile pipeline from its oil and natural gas fields in Tatarstan, 700 miles to the east of Moscow, that would be capable of supplying much-needed cheap energy to countries in the Soviet bloc within five or so years, with smaller pipelines that could spread deeper into Europe. All were still struggling to rebuild from the devastation of World War II.
Kennedy responded through NATO in a futile effort to impose an embargo on the imports from Western Europe to Russia of the materials to build the pipeline. In a 2018 study, Nikos Tsafos, an expert who was named last year as the energy adviser to the prime minister of Greece, described what happened next: Kennedy’s “goal was to delay or even stop the . . . pipeline that would increase Soviet oil exports. The embargo split the [NATO] alliance, with the United Kingdom being the most vocal against it; the pipeline was completed with only a slight delay, and the embargo was removed in 1966.” Tsafos quoted a colleague as noting that “one could argue that the pipe embargo caused more damage to US-European relations than to the Soviet economy.” That assessment, Tsafos noted, “applies to almost every transatlantic effort against Soviet and, later, Russian hydrocarbons.”
President Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981 determined to confront what he would come to call the “evil empire” and quickly escalated tensions between Washington and Moscow. He revived the B-1 bomber program that had been canceled by the Carter Administration; announced that his Administration would invest billions in an anti-ballistic missile defense system; and deployed Pershing II missiles, capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, to West Germany. In a 1982 speech he talked of consigning the Soviet Union to “ash heap of history.”
Reagan, too, attempted to block a second Soviet pipeline that would run from Western Siberia to Western Europe. The West German government had approved the concept and agreed in principle to lend $4.75 billion to help finance it. Reagan offered to supply the West German government with coal and nuclear power if it would withdraw from its agreement with Moscow. The Germans said no. France subsequently signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Soviet Union for the purchase of the Siberian gas. The Reagan Administration responded by escalating the existing sanctions against American business support for the pipeline to include any foreign companies doing business with Russia. All such firms would be barred from doing any business with the United States.
Enter George Ball again, now just retired after many quiet years as a managing partner of Lehman Brothers in New York. He published an essay, “The Case Against Sanctions,” in the New York TimesMagazine in the fall of 1982 that is eerily prescient of the anti-Russian views repeatedly voiced today by President Biden, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.
“The Reagan Administration,” Ball wrote, “has now brought to the shaping of governmental decisions an ideological bias one might call the Manichaean Heresy. Present day Manichaeans espouse the doctrinal concept that Soviet Communism is the Antichrist—an evil element that must be extirpated if we are to have peace in the world. . . . [T]hat view is now shared by neo-conservative intellectuals. . . . As their major operational tactic, the Manicheans would have the United States seize every pretext to harass the Russians. . . .The Soviet economy is huge, the Soviet Union commands vast raw materials resources within its borders. . . . Niggling sanctions, no matter how persistently applied, could never prove more than a marginal nuisance. . . . With arrogance in inverse proportion to their own credentials of experience, Administration leaders are using crude methods to try to ride roughshod over the considered judgments and interests of allied governments, acting as though the United States had a monopoly of wisdom.”
Three decades later, in 2014, Vice President Joe Biden would reprise Reagan’s language and his fears of Russia’s gas and oil reserves in a speech to the Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit in Istanbul. Russia’s use of its energy was “a weapon undermining the security of nations,” he warned. “Here in Europe energy security is an especially vital regional security interest because of Russia’s track record in using the supply of energy as a foreign policy weapon.
“My message here,” Biden continued, “is not that Europe can or should do away with Russian imports. That is not the case at all. I have no doubt that Russia will and should remain a major source of energy supplies for Europe and the world . . . but it has to play by the rules of the game. It shouldn’t be able to use energy policy to play with the game.” Biden was warning Russia that it must play by America’s rules. Therein lie the seeds of the demise of the Nord Stream pipelines eight years later.
In his 1982 essay, Ball offered a future America what would be unheeded guidance about the way to deal with an unwanted Russian pipeline: “If our government thinks, for whatever reasons, that the pipeline is not a good idea, it should quietly urge that view on its allies and try to persuade them to pursue a different course; that is what alliances are all about.”
President Biden chose last September to ignore America’s European allies. More than that, he put those allies at risk of not being able to keep their people warm by approving the destruction of Nord Stream pipelines. He and his national security team did not have the courage or integrity to say what was done and why. At this point, barring a major defection among the few in the know, Biden and his aides will likely never admit the truth.
It is impossible to know, pending disclosures by the administration, why Biden chose that day to destroy the pipeline, but it is a fact that ten days earlier he had been indirectly mocked by Vladimir Putin during a press conference following a summit meeting of the Russian-sponsored Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan. Putin was asked about the rising price of natural gas throughout Europe, which was depicted as a consequence of the war he chose to start with Ukraine. Putin claimed that the energy crisis in Europe was not triggered by the war but was the result of what he called “the green agenda” and the shutting down of gas and oil facilities in response to environmental protests.
The Russian president then said if the West needs more gas “urgently . . . if things are so bad . . just go ahead and lift sanctions [that had been applied by the German government, with American approval] against Nord Stream 2 with its 55 billion cubic meters per year. All they have to do is press the button and they will get it going. But they chose to shut it off themselves . . . imposed sanctions against the new Nord Stream 2 and will not open it. Are we to blame for this? Let them [the West] think hard about who is to blame and let none of them blame us for their mistakes.”
Ball’s criticism of sanctions is little remembered now, but his courage in confronting Kennedy early on in the Vietnam War has lingered in the minds of a few senior Washington policymakers. While reporting for the New Yorker on the pernicious and secret foreign policy intrigues of Vice President Dick Cheney in the years after 9/11, I was called one afternoon by the secretary to Representative David Obey. The Democrat from Wisconsin was chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, and he was unquestionably one the most important, and reclusive, members of Congress. He’d been in the House since 1969 and was one of those almost invisible representatives who made Congress what it should be. Obey was also one of four members of a subcommittee, two Democrats and two Republicans, with access to the CIA’s secrets—the findings on all covert operations that the agency under law has to provide to Congress. Obey’s message to me was very direct: he was reading in my dispatches about alleged covert operations that were not known to him. What happened next remains a private matter, but sometime after Obey retired in 2011, two years into Barack Obama’s first term, I made a point to get in contact with him.
Obey told me a story about George Ball of all people. It turned out that the memory of Ball’s willingness to confront Kennedy with an unwanted truth about the Vietnam War still burned brightly in some. Obey said that as a ranking Democratic member of the House he had been invited by Obama to a small meeting early in the new administration to discuss the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Obey told me that he had stayed quiet while generals and legislators discussed how many troops the new president should add to current levels. His worry was a matter of budget concerns. (The only hint of dissent voiced in the meeting, Obey recalled, had come from Joe Biden. This early caution foreshadowed Biden’s decision last year to admit defeat and pull the American military out of Afghanistan. It was a decision marred by poor planning, a lack of sufficient force, and a suicide bombing that killed thirteen American soldiers in the evacuation process.)
As the meeting ended, Obey said, he asked the president if he had a moment for a quick chat. Obey warned Obama that expanding the Afghan War “would crowd out [from the budget] large portions of your domestic program—except perhaps health care.” He asked the new president if he remembered the White House recordings of Lyndon Johnson in the days after the assassination of Kennedy that were released a few years earlier and had become constant Saturday morning public radio fodder. Obama did. Did the president remember Johnson’s talk within a few months after the he took office with Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, the conservative head of the Armed Services Committee, in which both men acknowledged that adding more troops in Vietnam, then sought by the U.S. commanders in Saigon, would not help the war effort and could even lead to a disastrous war with China? Johnson also worried, he told Russell, that many thousands of American soldiers would die in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Again Obama said yes, he remembered those exchanges. Obey then asked Obama, “Who’s your George Ball?” There was silence. “Either the president chose not to answer,” the disappointed Obey told me, “or he did not have one.” With that question the conversation was over. Obama subsequently authorized an increase of 30,000 troops for the war.
Refute the Evil. Live the Joy. Share the Hope.merlin
Some of you indeed have lived long enough to see what does appear to be, history repeating itself. Take a look!
Author Eric Metaxis’s interview from last fall, replayed today, March 13, 2023 on LIFEToday,where Eric introduced his recent book Letters to the American Church, which he nearly named Faith Without Works is Dead. Eric earlier wrote Amazing Grace and Bonhoeffer. As the title reveals, Letters to the American Church is comparable to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship, written in 1933 after only 5000-6000 of Germany’s 18000 protestant pastors signed the Barnam Declaration in opposition to the Nazi German Christian movement. By 1935 only 3000 remained standing. Do realize these German pastors were all supposedly paid German government positions, perhaps a distant cousin of our 501c3 as granted to American churches and a multitude of not-for-profits. Click on the link below to view the 19 minute interview.
PS. I find it interesting how Eric’s last book so closely follows in the theological footsteps of Francis Chan and his book, Letters to the Church, lacking only the word American, being another must read revealing snapshot of the spirituality of American megachurches and Chan’s personal revitalization after deliberately downsizing his surroundings but upgrading his vital connections in community with truth tellers!
I apologize for the weird script format. You can print your own copy off the link.
JAMES: Welcome to LIFE Today! I am right here in the studio, rushed up here to talk to Eric Metaxas. He wrote Amazing Grace, how slavery was basically overthrown by the grace of God; Amazing Grace, John Newton, as much as Wilberforce, I think more. And the author of the book I’m holding, who wrote Amazing Grace, and also wrote Bonhoeffer. And boy, did we see the miracle that could have saved the horrors t hatoccurred in Germany under Hitler if the church had heard what God revealed to and ultimately through Bonhoeffer. It was written by Eric Metaxas. Well, here is Eric Metaxas’ new book, Letter to the American Church. He is sitting here with me.
And Eric, I love you. And I want to thank you for Amazing Grace, I want to thank you for the miracle that you revealed so clearly. It wasn’t just Wilberforce, but it was John Newton keeping Amazing Grace, keeping him in the fire. Then you wrote Bonhoeffer. You said to me when I talked to you, right before you came here and we talked yesterday, you said, “James, this is the Bonhoeffer message to America today.” Do you believe that?
ERIC: You know when you say things like that you have to understand how it sounds. So I have to be very, very clear—crystal clear. There is no hyperbole in what I’m saying. The thesis of this book, the reason I know the Lord made me write this short book is because the silence of the church in Germany that led to the satanic evil of the Nazis in the holocaust is exactly the same as the silence of the church in America today, which will, without question, lead us to horrors unimaginable unless we repent, unless we cease being silent. I cannot think of a more urgent message. I beg people—I beg people to take what I’m saying in this book seriously because of course, it is not me talking. When you title a book Letter to the American Church, I’m not arrogant enough to think that this is a letter from Eric Metaxas. This is in the tradition of the letter to the Philippians. You know? You want to write exactly what you think the Lord is saying.
So I’ve never been more humbled in writing something because I thought this is so important and this has to be what God is trying to say. But what I believe the Lord is trying to say in this book is exactly what he said through Bonhoeffer to the German church, which they did not listen to. It was the prophet, the Lord always sends his prophets. And many years later we go wow, wasn’t that prophet great! Jeremiah, Isaiah, they’re so great! In their day they were not listened to, they were murdered. Bonhoeffer’s message which was from God to the German church was ignored. And we saw what happened. I believe that the Lord called me to write the Bonhoeffer book, which we’ve talked about on this program years ago, to help America see that is what happens when a church is silent.
So in this book, I’m basically taking what Bonhoeffer said and speaking it to the church in America today; and saying unless you repent of your silence, unless you repent of playing this game that you think you can be neutral when evil rises and you say nothing, God will judge you. There is no neutral ground. The German church tried to take that neutral ground and the enemy destroyed that nation and destroyed millions of lives.
I believe we’re facing something extremely similar, and the church, most of the church right now is using the same excuses for their silence. They say things like well, we don’t want to be political. They have all kinds of reasons. The same reasons the German church had in that day. When you see the similarity, I think most people would be shocked.
JAMES: You illustrate and give clarity to the understanding of the reality that there is only one force on God’s planet, heaven and the earth is the Lord’s. We were left here as overseers of this planet. The king is here; his kingdom is established in us. We can make an impact in this world and the only force that can overpower the deception and destruction of the gates of hell is what? The church of Jesus Christ.
That’s what you’re writing. You start, “What is the church? Does God ask us to see the future?” Of course, his will being done now, which is future too because we have nothing to do with the next kingdom; we have everything to do with this one. And we are not left here to get out of here, we’re left here to see his will done on his earth.
ERIC: That’s the amazing thing. People act like well, it is all about getting saved. Well, you’re saved, now what? Now, you’re part of the church and the Lord expects you to live out your faith that you claim to have totally, fearlessly and self-sacrificially until he calls you to be with him. And I think that we’ve been so blessed in America, just as Germans were blessed, that they thought, well, that doesn’t apply to me. I can have a nice life and I’ll go to church. Oh, I believe these things—I believe these things.
When the Lord requires something of you and you don’t do it, the Lord knows you don’t believe what you say you believe. So I talk about the deception of when we talk about faith. Luther, I wrote a biography of Luther, about the idea of faith. It is all about faith—it is all about faith. Yeah, it is all about faith if it’s real faith; not fake faith where I say I believe stuff.
And faith, I was going to—this book, Letter to the American Church, I was going to title the book, not kidding, Faith Without Works is Dead. Because we have a lot of people who claim they have faith and the Lord says, well, I see your fruit, I see your heart. If you believed that I defeated death on the cross, you would live differently. And it is exactly what Bonhoeffer writes about, he talks about cheap grace. And it is a prophetic word that the Lord gave him. And I believe that it didn’t work on the German church. They did not hear it.
But my prayer, my hope, is that exactly what the Lord spoke through Bonhoeffer would be heard and heeded by the American church. And I will say again, if not, we are going down precisely the same path. And people say I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it. Trust me when I tell you the Germans did not believe that that future was even possible. But it happened and we are no different than the Germans.
JAMES: Erwin Lutzer, one of my good friends, a guest here frequently, told the story about the church singing louder in Germany when the trains came by with the Jewish people headed to be annihilated, even with their families; and the church sang louder so they didn’t hear their cries. Today it seems like we just continue to persist in singing louder while we’re headed right over the cliff under demonic control and a greater force coming to destroy the freedom that we have known because of the way our nation was birthed with truth and biblical principles.
We are right now under a power that can totally overthrow us and put us in the dark and take away every freedom we have ever known; the stage is set for that. And the only forces, as I said a moment ago, that can stop this overthrowing power is the church of Jesus Christ, the body of Christ supernaturally united with one head leading. You write this chapter about 12,000 pastors. Tell us the significance.
ERIC: It’s a chilling—this is really—I didn’t even know this when I was writing my Bonhoeffer book. When I started writing this book and I dipped back into my Bonhoeffer book and into that period I realized something, and I said this is chilling because this isexactly where we are today—exactly!
In Germany, in the ’30s, there were about 18,000 protestant pastors roughly. In 1933, when Hitler took power and began to instantly try to transform that whole culture in every way along Nazi lines, he included the church. He said well, the church is part of the state. We pay the pastors. We don’t have separation of church and state. So that’s when folks like Bonhoeffer said wait a minute! No. We must stand against this. We cannot have the government dictating to the church. We answer to Jesus Christ.
So they wrote this thing called the Barmen Declaration; maybe 5,000-6,000 pastors signed it, very brave. By 1935, only 3,000 were standing strong. In other words, the Nazis persecuted the church and bullied and threatened the whole culture in such a way which we’re seeing today, that if you don’t play the game, you’re going to get it. You’ll get canceled, you’ll get sent to a concentration camp, you’ll lose this, you’ll lose that—brutal persecution, cultural persecution. But by 1935, only 3,000 who had signed the Barmen Declaration were standing firm. So of the 18,000 pastors, by 1935 you have 3,000 standing firm. On the other end of the spectrum, you have about 3,000 standing strongly with Hitler happy to crush the church, or happy to give the church over to the devil or whatever it is.
But in the middle, there were 12,000 pastors that basically would not commit one way or the other. That is the nightmare that they thought it would be safe. We won’t take a position. We don’t want to be “political.” We don’t want to confuse the gospel and politics. We’re just going to keep our nose down, preach our little stuff on Sunday mornings, and when we leave this building, we’re going to bow to the authority of the state. That lie which you hear over and over, you’re hearing it again today, they bought it because it was the safe path.
Many of them, there are all kinds of reasons people bought into it but the point of that chapter and in many ways the point of the book is that it was the silence of those 12,000 that enabled the Nazis to crush the 3,000 heroes, to marginalize them and put them in concentration camps and do whatever. It was the silence of that 12,000—their failure to stand with the heroic 3,000—because many of those 12,000 kind of knew what was right; but they said we’re just going to be quiet. We’re pastors, we don’t want to be involved in anything political because people will criticize us as being political. And Romans 13, oh that’s so clear!
Well, it is not so clear. Bonhoeffer understood that it was not so clear. Bonhoeffer in fact in his book Cost of Discipleship says he was disgusted with what he called the theologically based restraint of all these pastors, he said, which is nothing but fear. They’re using these excuses to stay out of trouble. They’re playing this little religious game.
And so one of the things I write about in here is like, so, if the Gestapo comes to the door and asks are you hiding a Jew in your basement? If you’re a religious Christian who doesn’t want to get in trouble, religious in the negative sense, you’d say, oh, yeah, I’m hiding a Jew in my basement. Help yourself to the Jew; torture and kill the Jew, but I don’t lie. I’m justified before God. It is the most religious in the negative sense, legalistic response which breaks God’s heart. And many in Germany said we’re going to take that path. We’re just going to “preach the gospel,” we’re going to stick to our little sermons.
But anybody who knows the Lord knows that’s not what God calls you to do. God calls you to speak his truth wherever you go, fearlessly. And the German church did not do that. They hesitated, they had their reasons. By the time they realized what the Nazis were doing it was too late. It was game over.
And so what I’m saying is that today in America we are in the early ’30s and anybody who would say I’m exaggerating, I beg them to consider the details because I know that this true. This is not like well, I have some interpretation. We are hearing the same silence from pastors around this country who are saying that I don’t want to offend anyone in my congregation. I’m going to keep my nose out of that. There is a time in a culture when you can do that. If it was 1985, and you say well, listen, we’ve got some Democrats in our audience. We’re just preaching the gospel. But when you have cultural Marxism coming into schools and into the culture, which many churches are allowing in, critical race theory, you can look in any direction, transgender madness, a government demonizing half of the population publicly, there are things that if you do not speak now God will hold you responsible for your silence.
And the reason I wrote this is because I believe that there are still people that can be reached, there are still some among the 12,000 who could be awakened. And it is my prayer and my hope that they will, that they will repent. Because you know if somebody came to you in 1840 and said, don’t mention slavery. Just stick to gospel-related issues because we’ve got some slaveholders in our audience and our congregation making—you say wait a second, I have an obligation before God to speak on that issue. And if it on offends someone, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. God will judge me if I’m silent on that issue. If I’m silent on the sanctity of the unborn, God will hold me to account.Where do you get this idea that I’m just supposed to stick to John 3:16 for every sermon? But that’s the lie and it is a diabolical lie that has been pushed on the church. And many in the church have said, oh okay. Now I have my reason I can be quiet. I don’t have to take that on.
I say, James, it is precisely because of that, that we are where we are. If somebody says to me today, why is America in free fall, falling apart in any direction? We’ve never seen anything like it. I would say frankly because of the silence of the church. God will judge the church for its silence. We’re the ones who are supposed to know better. We are the ones that know difference between a man and a woman. We’re the ones that are supposed to believe that Jesus defeated death on the cross. So we say these things with no fear. We say these things with joy, that innumerable lives will be affected.
So the idea that we’re supposed to avoid politics or that we’re supposed to—this is not wisdom and that’s why I wrote the book. You can tell, there’s deep sobriety and humility that I have in writing something like this because I thought, people in Germany didn’t believe that this hell could happen to them. They were convinced this can’t happen. I think that there are many Americans that believe the same thing. That if I just keep quiet it will all be okay. That’s not what history shows us, and I don’t think that’s what the Lord says.
JAMES: Let me try to summarize and I want you to listen closely. Bonhoeffer is a long book. Amazing Grace is a long book. I was amazed, this is a very brief book, but it is a powerful book. It is like a letter from our Lord to us in America at this moment in history. And the future of freedom here and around the world depends upon the church’s response right now. The one force, the gates of hell, Jesus said, cannot prevail against is the body of Christ, the church. But that’s the body of Christ born from above, connected to one another in supernatural unity like body parts submitted to the one head Christ standing against the forces, against all the forces of deception, dissension, division, and destruction.
I believe that right now we begin to correct course or we’re over the cliff—freedom’s gone! Now I think it is going to happen very rapidly too. But I also believe if the church would come together in supernatural unity that Jesus prayed for, submit to the one head, and speak the truth not only in love but that New Testament group of Christians, those apostles, they turned the world upside down because they proclaimed another king than the government or any other power on this earth than Caesar. There is only one king, the church is the only one that can present that.
This is a letter, I’m telling you, you can read this fast. We’ll send it to you. You can go online right now and get it. They probably can get it in print online, but you can order the book right now. You can get it normally in a day. But we’ll send it to you if you simply help us do what we give you an opportunity to do, to put your arms around the broken and the suffering and see them free, we’ll send it to you. I want you to read this. You can read it. This is the kind of book you can read in one day. And he wrote it that way deliberately. I believe that it is not just a draft from Eric Metaxas, I believe it is from God and used somebody gifted to write who recognized the greatness of God in a man that could have saved the horrible holocaust.
Refute the Evil. Live & Share the Joy! Share this message TODAY! merlin