Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Christmas Wish

Christmas is one of the most amazing seasons of the year.  For the businessman, the success or failure of the year rides mightily upon the shoulders of customers during these weeks preceding Christmas.  For children, the anxieties of the almost "eternal wait" for Christmas often become apparent in abnormal behavior; after all, a person can only be "good" for so long.  For moms and dads, it is the anticipation of having all the kids coming home; it will be a celebration of family as remembered in the past. 

Christmas is also the time when busyness seems to dominate our calendars.  There are the Sunday school programs at the local church.  Then throw in a couple of nights of concerts at school.  Perhaps there is a party or two at work.  There are cards to address, letters to write, gifts to purchase and then wrap, cookies to bake, a tree to decorate.  Whew! I got tired just writing down that list!  Now, all of the above are good and I would certainly not want to eliminate any one Christmas tradition. 

But what I do find missing today is an overwhelming sense of the mystery that is Christmas.  It is that mystery that we know as the Incarnation.  Allow me to share some brief thoughts from the first chapter of John's Gospel.  John begins with words that are so easy to read, yet are so difficult to fully comprehend.  John writes, "In the beginning was the Word..."  Okay, let's stop right there.  I may have a difficult time understanding about when the beginning actually began, but I certainly do understand the concept of there being a person there at the beginning.  And that person was the Word.  Okay, I get that.  The Word was at the beginning. 

But, let's continue: "...and the Word was with God."   Okay, let's stop again.  I get this as well.  So, at the very beginning there was the Word and there was God.  So, not just one person present at the beginning, but actually there were two.  Okay, nothing too out-of-the-ordinary so far. 

But, here is where the mystery of Christmas begins to take shape.  John writes, "...and the Word was God."  Hold it right there!  Let's back up and read that again.  Let me see if I get this right: In the beginning there was the Word and there was God - two persons, but the Word actually was God.  So, there was two but only one!  Yes, that is exactly what John was saying.  Sort of tough for a finite mind like mine to get my arms around. 

But, John is not finished quite yet.  Let's jump down to verse 14.  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we perceived His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth."  John says that the Word, which he has already identified as being not only with God, but in actuality was God, became flesh.  In other words, God took upon Himself flesh, that is, a human body, and entered into the human race here on earth.  God became one of us!  If that doesn't constitute a mystery, then I am not sure exactly what does. 

That baby, born to Mary and laid in a manger in a cave in Bethlehem, was the infinite, holy, eternal, omnipotent Creator of the universe.  That baby was God!  Friends, just sit down right now for a few moments and ponder the reality of that truth.  That scene at the manger was the intersection of the divine and the human, of the heavenly with the earthly.  It was God Himself stepping onto the stage of this world with the purpose of reclaiming that which was His own. 

A few years ago, Mark Lowry wrote a song which, I think, truly captures the mystery of the Incarnation in a profound way.  It has become one of my favorite Christmas songs and I share those words with you as my Christmas gift and challenge.

"Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

"Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
Mary, did you know...

"The blind will see.  The deaf will hear.  The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.  The dumb will speak the praises of The Lamb.

"Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day rule the nation?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I AM."

I want to wish you all the joys of this Christmas Season as you celebrate the mystery of "the Word becoming flesh." 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Star Wars Christmas? Really Now!

This coming Friday one of the most anticipated movies of all time will be released.  Lines have already been formed to get tickets. Nearly every commercial market has capitalized on this movie's characters in order to increase holiday sales.  Of course I am speaking of the new Star Wars movie titled, "The Force Awakens."  Many believe this movie will shatter all box office records and become an instant classic.  To be perfectly honest, I am not a Star Wars fan, so definitely will not be standing in any line on Friday.

But what grabbed my attention was an article published at the World Net Daily website.  I was intrigued by the title: "'Star Wars' nativity scenes? In churches?"  You can read the article, which was written by Joseph Farah, at  Mary has been replaced by Princess Leia; Joseph by Hans Solo; the Magi are now Storm Troopers.  I guess R2D2 and C3PO have replaced the ox and the donkey.

At Liquid Church, in Morristown, NJ, it's being hailed as the "Cosmic Christmas" - a three-week series centering around Star Wars theme.  It comes complete with a Living Nativity featuring the Star Wars characters.  Tim Lucas, the lead pastor and founder of Liquid Church says, "There are no rules that says church needs to be dry and boring.  One of our core values at Liquid is that 'church is fun.'  It's OK to laugh and celebrate together while talking about Christmas.  If that means having 'Star Wars' characters in costume and dancing storm troopers, I'm all for it."

There you have it: Come to the manger and have your picture taken with Hans Solo or one of the Storm Troopers.  Star Wars will attract people to your church this Christmas.  Perhaps they will discover that the Force is truly with them. 

What is being communicated with these Star Wars nativities?  I believe it is that the real Christmas Story has become so old and boring that no one is attracted by it anymore.  What is there to get excited about?  People today want excitement.  People today want creativity.  People today want something that is different.  So, let's cast the Nativity Story in a different way.  People will then want to come and then we can share the message with them.

But what message is being shared?  Where is Jesus within this newly told story?  How does He fit in?  And, if Jesus is not present, then what story do we really have to tell?

Here is the danger, as I see it.  First, the world is trying very hard to eliminate the Nativity Story from the Christmas Season.  The public display of the Nativity is almost never seen any longer.  In many cases, even the name "Christmas" cannot be used in public spaces.  Second, the Church is trying to rewrite the Nativity Story in order to attract crowds.  But in doing so, the true message that the first Nativity Scene related is watered-down and becomes ineffective in seeing lives changed.

This Saturday and Sunday evening, our Church - Buffalo Covenant Church - will celebrating the Christmas Story with its annual Living Nativity.  No there won't be any light-sabers or Jedi.  But there will be some simple shepherds, along with their flocks.  There will be some wise men and even a camel or two.  And, center stage will be Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.  That is as it should be.  Last year over a thousand people came and went through our recreation of Bethlehem.  You see, Christmas is not about "the Force being with us."  No, it is about God becoming man - the Incarnation. 

If you are in the vicinity of Buffalo, MN, I would invite you to stop by our Living Nativity.  The hours are 5:00-7:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday evenings.  After your trip through Bethlehem and you are filled with the awe and wonder that truly is Christmas, you are invited to share in some cookies and hot chocolate. 

For some people, excitement will come with "the Force being with them."  I don't know about you, but I am thrilled and blessed to know that "God is with us - Emmanuel!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Does the Nativity Cause Some People to Show Fear?

Well it is the Christmas Season so you would expect the Freedom From Religion Foundation to get its shackles riled up about something.  And they certainly do not disappoint us with their strange reasoning.  The following article was written by Todd Starnes who writes for Fox News.  You can find the article at:  "A federal judge has banished Baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men from an Indiana high school's Christmas musical.  U.S. District Court Judge Jon DeGuillo, appointed to the bench by President Obama, issued an injunction against Concord Community Schools on Dec. 2.  The court order forbids students from presenting a live Nativity scene during the Concord High School's Christmas Spectacular.  The judge said that portion of the show is overtly religious in nature. 

"The kids in Elkhart have been staging a Christmas Spectacular since 1970.  The show is modeled after the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.  'The living nativity scene impermissibly conveys an endorsement of religion and thus runs afoul of the Establishment Clause,' the judge wrote in his ruling.  There's a reason the Living Nativity is 'overtly religious' your Honor.  It's because Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation and the ACLU of Indiana had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a family whose child is in the production. ... 'Holiday celebrations that proselytize students are inappropriate in public schools,' ACLU attorney Heather Weaver said in a prepared statement.  The father and his child were offended by the inclusion of the nativity as well as Bible readings.  Weaver said the ruling 'makes clear and ensures that all students and families, regardless of faith or belief, will feel welcome at Concord High's winter concert.'  The school had already tried to accommodate the disgruntled father and child by removing the Bible readings - but apparently that wasn't good enough.  They alleged in court papers that the inclusion of the nativity sent a message 'that Christians are favored by the school while non-Christians such as themselves are outsiders.'  Judge DeGuillo determined the live nativity 'conveys solemnity and reverence, as if the audience is being asked to venerate the nativity, not simply acknowledge or appreciate its place in the winter holiday season.' ... Supt. John Trout issued a statement saying they are 'disappointed' but will comply with the judge's anti-Christian order."

So, there you have it - The Christmas Story - the real Christmas Story - is outlawed once again.  What are the people represented by the Freedom From Religion Foundation so afraid of?  What is there about the Nativity scene that causes them to break out in a "cold sweat?"  What is it about the story of a little baby born in a manger in Bethlehem so many years ago that causes them to have anxiety and panic attacks?  I think I know.  They are afraid of the Truth that is lying there in that manger of hay.  They are afraid of what that Child represents.  For, you see, Jesus was born in order to redeem a sinful mankind.  And it is that little three-letter word "s-i-n" that they do not like, for they are of the persuasion that all men are created inherently good.  But God declares that we are all born inherently evil and lost unless someone redeems us.  And that is exactly what the message of Christmas is all about: The coming of the Redeemer, the One who was born so that He could die as the ransom for many. 

You see, when you gaze into that nativity scene and you see that little baby lying there, you actually realize how sinful you truly are and how desperately you need a savior.  So, remove the Nativity scene and those guilt feelings just might go away and I can go about thinking that I am okay. 

Do we need a Nativity scene to remind us? Of course not!  But its very presence just might awaken one soul to his/her own need.  What the folks at Freedom From Religion Foundation have failed to realize: If there had not been that first Nativity scene in Bethlehem, then no one would be getting excited about Christmas.  Take Christ out of Christmas and what do have you left?  Absolutely nothing!  No Santa Claus!  No gifts exchanged!  No Christmas tree or Christmas cards!  No business madness! 

Before I close I want to share with you one more article of a group of people who are trying to correct some insane thinking.  You can find it at:  It was written by Bo Unruh.  Perhaps the people living in California are beginning to wake up to the idiotic behavior that has been espoused by judicial decrees regarding transgender and public restrooms.  An initiative has been started under the name "Personal Privacy Protection Act" that would provide that a men's room is just for men; that a women's room is just for women.  Part of this provision states, "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person shall use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings."  Furthermore, the provision defines "biological sex" as "the biological condition of being male or female as determined at or near the time of birth or through medical examination."  I strongly encourage you to read this article. 

The world continues its crazy pace toward the coming of the King.  Wouldn't it be great if Jesus would come this Christmas?  What a Christmas that would be!  Sorry the folks at Freedom From Religion Foundation would miss out!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Support for Freedom of Speech Coming Forth

One of the foundational principles upon which our nation was created is well expressed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  That amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."  The rights expressed with this amendment articulate those beliefs that have really made our nation different from all other nations.  Included in that First Amendment is the "freedom speech."  This necessarily means the opportunity for the free exchange of ideas. 

Dialogues and debates have been part of the American landscape almost since the very beginning.  Debates were a crucial occurrence during those days in Philadelphia when, first the decision was made to declare an independence from Great Britain, and then the Constitution was drafted that would guide that newly independent nation.  From reports I have read, the debate and exchange of ideas was often a heated one.  But it was through those debates that the strength of the Constitution was created. 

And throughout the history of our nation, one of the bastions for the exchange of ideas - an arena for debate - have been the campuses of our colleges and universities.  How can there be any type of intellectual growth in the absence of dialogue?  How can beliefs be tested without entering into the crucible of debate?  Yet today there are voices on many college and university campuses that would not just stifle debate and dialogue but would eliminate both all together.  There would be only one voice that would be heard.  There would be only one idea that would be accepted. 

I want to share with you two articles that came to my attention this past week.  The first is a news-blog from the President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.  You can find this blog at:  The blog was written by Dr. Everett Piper.  "This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt 'victimized' by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13.  It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love.  In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable. 

"I'm not making this up.  Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic.  Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims.  Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them 'feel bad' about themselves, is a 'hater,' a 'bigot,' an 'oppressor,' and a 'victimizer.'

"I have a message for this young man and all other who care to listen.  That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience.  An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad.  It is supposed to make you feel guilty.  The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins - not coddle you in your selfishness.  The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.  So here's my advice:

"If you want the chaplain to tell you you're a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you're looking for.  If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.  If you're more interested in playing the 'hater' card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don't want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn't one of them.

"At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered.  We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge.  We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict.  We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin.  We don't believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don't issue 'trigger warnings' before altar calls.

"Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a 'safe place,' but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn't about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that's wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that's wrong with them.  This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.  This is not a day care.  This is a university!"

Wow!  May those like Dr. Piper increase in number! 

A second, longer, article was posted on the website of The Patriot Post.  It was written by Arnold Ahlert.  You can find this article at:  The article is too long to quote in its entirety here, but I want to just share a couple of opening paragraphs.  "If one likes ideologically inspired faux indignation, Washington Post writer Karen Attiah is hard to top.  'A fascinating, uncomfortable and purifying wave is sweeping through America's college campuses,' she writes, characterizing the protests at various universities as 'agitating for racial justice.'  And what does such purification entail?  At Princeton, students are demanding the removal of President Woodrow Wilson's name from campus due to his racist legacy.  All well and good, but genuine purification demands the casting of a far wider net.  If these students are to be true to their grievance-mongering school, the Democrat Party itself must be eliminated from the national ethos.

"No doubt our Millennial Marauders, who voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in the last two elections, would find such a prospect inconceivable.  Yet as University of Richmond associate history professor Eric S. Yellin reminds us, the lessons we learn from these outbursts 'must not be about the actions of singular bad men only.'  Instead, he continues, 'They must force us to consider the broad and often quotidian effects of the inequality that pervades many of our national institutions."

The article then carefully documents how the Democratic party has historically been the party of racists.  The article is well foot-noted. 

Friends, as I shared last week, Jesus was not adverse to debate or to the exchange of ideas.  Did He persuade everyone who heard Him to become His follower?  Absolutely not!  But some did and their lives were changed forever.  As one studies the history of the Early Church, many of those names that we most cherish - Clement, Ignatius, Athanasius, and Augustine, just to name a few - were skilled in the arena of dialogue.  They understood the value and power of the spoken word to speak to hearts. 

If the trend that is now gaining strength on our college and university campuses continues, then I can only conclude that we are close to the coming of the Antichrist, who, the Bible tells us, will be the master of "thought control."  Yes, he will tell everyone exactly how they are to think.  There will be no free exchange of ideas, no debate, no dialogue. 

Are you ready for the trumpet to sound?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thoughts for Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day in which we set aside time to reflect upon the many blessings that God has given to us this past year.  Really our list should be quite long and our time of praise should be quite long as well.  But I have found that it is easy to give thanks for the "stuff" of life, you know, food - and what abundance we have, clothing - our closets are filled and our biggest problems is determining what to wear, health - too often we take this for granted, but, having just lost a brother to cancer a few weeks ago, I know that health is a precious gift to us, as is family. 

And how can we forget to thank our wonderful God of our salvation.  I have been reminded of this as I have been working on a Communion Meditation that I will be sharing Sunday from the story of Hosea.  What an amazing love Hosea had for his wayward, unfaithful bride Gomer.  Then God reminds Hosea that his love for Gomer is a portrait of God's love for His wayward, unfaithful people.  In order to set Gomer free, Hosea had to step out of his comfort zone and enter into the messy world of prostitution.  As one reads his story one can almost feel the shame that Hosea experienced and the humiliation as everyone knew that Gomer was the wife of the prophet.  Yet, drawn by his love, Hosea went forward, paid the required price to set his wife free.  I believe that  until her dying day, Gomer probably never fully understood that amazing love.  But is that not what God did for us.  We enter into this Advent Season where we celebrate God's love.  Yes, God stepped out of His "comfort zone" - the glories of heaven - and came here to this messy world to rescue us from the bondage to sin.  He, too, paid the price for our redemption.  So, with David in Psalm 103, I want to praise God for the blessings of redemption, of my salvation, of having received God's amazing love.

I have just finished reading Ben Carson's newest book titled, "A More Perfect Union."  It is one of the clearest explanations of the United States Constitution that I have ever read.  I highly recommend it to you.  After reading that book, I want to add another item to my Thanksgiving list: that I live in the United States of America.  And I want to thank those Founding Fathers for their vision of what America could be.  Those men had a knowledge of the Scriptures.  They understood the sinful condition of the human heart.  And they understood the character of a just God and that the country they were creating should be a reflection of that justice upon a sinful man.  And they did it well. 

My heart is saddened as I read of a generation of young people who are growing up and not fully understanding the freedoms that they have received.  I was just reading an article this morning written by Ben Shapiro.  You can find the article at:,  Let me just share a few quotes from the article: "Four in 10 young Americans have no idea what America is.  That's the takeaway from a new Pew Research poll showing that 40 percent of Americans aged 18-34 say that the government should be able to prevent people from making 'statements that are offensive to minority groups.'  This same group of young people has granted broad awareness to the culture of 'microaggression' - unintended slights taken as grave insults by their victims; they've also called for 'trigger warnings,' alerts that certain communications may dredge up unpleasant past memories or ideas.  With such ghoulish cruelties haunting the most privileged generation in human history, naturally we'd want to toss out the bedrock of Western civilization: The right to debate, to express unpopular opinions.  We wouldn't want to offend."  Friends, what this younger generation seems to have not learned - perhaps it was because they were not taught it - is that debate, the arguments of thought was the foundation upon which our nation was built.  I remember reading with fascination Joseph Ellis' book titled, "An American Creation," which is the account of the writing of the Constitution.  Yes, feelings were hurt.  Yes, tempers flared.  Yes, words were said that were later regretted.  But ideas were exchanged.  Compromise was done.  And the world has been blessed because of those agonizing weeks in 1787 in Philadelphia. 

It seems that today we want to shield everyone from anything that might be offensive.  But let's be honest: that can only happen if a person crawls into a cave and pushes the rock to close the entrance.  Life is full of ideas and differences of opinions.  Just look at Jesus: His world certainly was filled with those who differed from Him.  But Jesus entered into dialogue with them.  He freely shared His ideas and truths with them.  And the continuation of that debate over truths and ideas was central to the success of the early Church - example of Paul in Athens in Acts 17,  What is happening on the campuses across our nation is the suppression of ideas, the suppression of debate, the suppression of truth.  When such debate is stifled and quenched, intellectual growth ceases.  For it is in the presence of debate of ideas that our own intellect matures.  I remember a famous preacher once shared with a group of us young pastors these words, "Men, every year I read one or two books that I know I will strongly disagree with.  I do that to strengthen my own understanding of truth." 

So, I am grateful that I live in a nation that still grants me that freedom to express my thoughts and ideas.  I know that, if the present conditions prevail, that freedom will soon be a freedom in the past.

Finally, I want to just share a word about what is happening in the Middle East.  As you know, yesterday a Russian fighter jet was shot down as it crossed over into Turkish air space.  Tensions, already strained have now become even more heightened.  And I read this morning that it was reported that IAF (Israel Air Force) planes bombed Syrian units inside Syria - although this report has yet to be confirmed.  Yesterday our President met with the French President in the White House and promised America help in destroying ISIS, yet the very fact that ISIS was able to do what it did in Paris and shut down the city of Brussels indicate that its destruction will take a new type of warfare that the world has not prepared for.  The world grows even darker.  Yet I was encouraged with these words from Marvin Olasky, the editor of "World" magazine (which by the way I highly endorse): "We play checkers, but God plays chess, as His billions of moves bring the world toward its culmination." 

So, at this Thanksgiving Season I am grateful that God is in control.  Aren't you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

These Are Dangerous Times

The senselessness of the wanton taking of innocent human lives by ISIS continues.  The slaughter of 129 innocent people in Paris last Friday was another reminder that the world is at war with a group of people who have placed no value upon human life - except for their own.  In their estimation, they are right and everyone else is wrong; they are the only ones worthy of life, everyone else is worthy of death.  One can only imagine what this world would be like if their ideology prevailed. 

But the actions and attitudes that ISIS displays toward the rest of the world also reminds us of how self-centered many are today.  My way is the right way.  Your way is the wrong way.  We are no longer tolerant of others with differing beliefs, but feel threatened whenever someone takes issue with our ideas.  In today's world, if you do not fully agree and accept my views and beliefs, then I am left with no other recourse than to seek your destruction.  And we see this played out over and over again.

I read an article, written by Douglas Ernst and posted on the WND website, that literally made my heart stop.  You can find the article at:  "Berkeley College students attend a Nov 6, 2015, protest in response to racial message, allegedly written by a KKK supporter, on a library computer.  A well-established black student coalition is calling for violence if the U.S. Constitution is not replaced with a version that serves 'the interests of black people.'  Afrikan Black Coalition was created in 2003 to connect activists across the University of California system.  It has gone from concentrating on the low admittance and retention rates of black students in California to developing leadership and communication skills for members."

I want to share with you some of what that group posted in an op-ed article titled, "A New Constitution or the Bullet" on November 4.  Read it carefully.  "I have come to realize that the Constitution is the root of virtually all our problems in America.  In order to understand the injustices against Black folks in United States, we must look back to its foundation.  The U.S. is a country that was founded on slavery, genocide, rape, and white-male patriarchy.  A body cannot be separated from its head and remain living.  The Constitution and all the evil that it allows to be perpetuated are the head of White America, or more so corrupt America.  Racist America. ...A Constitution written by only white men will never serve the interests of black people.  The Constitution was written for the ruling class of white men which constructed whiteness to be more valuable than any other race.  Do we not have the right to abolish the laws that oppress us?  It is time to claim the Declaration of Independence and apply it to our struggle as colonized black people in America.  The United States has us; it is time we demand a new constitution or tell America that she will get the bullet.  White supremacy's bullets are killing black people every day.  If America does not protect us, then it is our human right to defend ourselves by any means necessary.  It is our human right to overthrow a government that has been destructive to our people.  This is why we must rise up and let all people come together and write new constitution to serve ALL people. ...We must pick up where the Black Panthers left off and declare a new constitution or it will be the bullet." 

Friends, that op-ed may seem almost too radical to be believed, but there are those who actually believe it to be true.  This is another example of either "accept my beliefs or I will destroy you" mentality.  Here is my question to this group: What will you replace the Constitution with?  Are you capable of having a constructive dialogue as those men did back in Philadelphia in 1787 that would lead to a document that literally changed the course of the world?  Will you, in your Constitutional Convention, even allow room for a constructive dialogue?  What really are your complaints with the Constitution as it presently is - it is a pretty incredible document?  I would like to tell this Afrikan Black Coalition that the only reason they could publish their op-ed piece in the first place was because of the safeguards given within the Constitution and its First Amendment.  They certainly could not express those views if they were living in Saudi Arabia or Yemen or even in Russia. 

I also want to refer you to another powerful article written by Jesse Lee Peterson and posted on November 15.  You can find this article at:  I want to share just a few lines from the closing of this article: "If you stand up against the bullies - whether they're radical black bullies on campuses, or Islamic bullies, they will go sit down.  But if you act with fear, they will run over you and your children.  You can't prove anything to angry people.  You just have to speak up, be honest and live your life.  Telling the truth and setting a living example is the only way to change anything for the better.  The greatest civilizations in the world are being destroyed by the godless.  The godless have not been raised by decent parents.  They're looking for love in all the wrong places, and in the wrong way.  And now they're destroying the free world.  It's time for whites in America, and in Europe, to stop the madness.  if it isn't stopped, your way of life - and possibly your life itself - will be stopped." 

As I have read these articles and others like them, and as I have listened to newscasts of the almost unrelenting violence that is impacting nearly every society around the world, I was reminded of those words of Jesus as He shared with His disciples what the world would be like at the close of the age.  Jesus spoke these words: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12).  There is a hatred that is growing around the world - a hatred that has turned each against the other.  Can this growing hatred be stopped?  Can this accelerating "my way or the highway" mentality be destroyed before we all are destroyed by it?  The answer is found in the return of the Lord Jesus.  Only then will the world know peace.  Only then will the world truly love one another.  But, until that day comes, our assignment, as believers in Jesus Christ, is to be salt and light in this increasingly evil world (see Matthew 5:13-16).  May we model Christ's love well before others.  And, yes, come quickly, Lord Jesus continues to be our prayer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Debate and a Campus Debacle

Like many of you I watched a portion of the Republican Presidential Debate last night.  I did not see the debate in its entirety, but I was impressed with what I did see.  I thought that any of those eight people on that stage would make a great President.  I was listening for some key words.  One such word was "values."  It seemed that almost every candidate said that America needed to get back to those "values" that had made it great.  It was good to know that, as diversified as are those candidates, that there is a centrality to their thinking: America is in decline and the only way to stop the slide is to get back to those principles that made America what it has been in the past.  A second word I listened for was "family."  Perhaps it is because the church that I serve has a strong focus on "family" as its ministry.  In fact, "family" is the heart and soul of our focus here at Buffalo Covenant Church.  I was so impressed with the emphasis that Marco Rubio placed upon "family."  He was unapologetic.  (By the way, I have been impressed with how Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House, has said that he will continue his focus upon his family.)  Yes, government is important, but family is biblical.  A third word I listened for was "small government."  I am a strong believer in "small government."  I am a strong believer in allowing the states to do what the Constitution guarantees to them.  Nearly every candidate emphasized their desire to shrink Washington.  Have I made up my mind as to whom I will support?  Not yet, but I was impressed with the quality of men and women represented on that stage last night. 

The feature story on the news last night was the events happening at the University of Missouri.  Through the pressure by students - and just a few students, certainly not the majority of students at that University - both the President and Chancellor of the University have resigned.  The complaint: the University of Missouri has been a hotbed of racism and the President and Chancellor have done nothing to prevent racism from occurring.  As I was driving into the Cities for a breakfast meeting this morning, one of the talk show hosts played a montage of clips from students as to why this protest occurred.  Among responses were these: it was a backlash against what happened in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year; it was a sign that the university leadership had not been sensitive to the needs of students of minority who have been oppressed historically for centuries; and that if a person undertakes a hunger-strike for a number of days and sees no results, then a protest must occur. 

That same talk show host then read the email sent to the students on the campus of the University of Missouri from the Campus Security Department that if they heard any words that they viewed as being hurtful, the students were to call the campus 911 number.  As I was driving I thought to myself: you have got to be kidding!  If I hear words that I consider hurtful, I am to call the police using the number designated for emergencies? 

Let me ask you: How many times have you heard "hurtful" words said to you?  Did you call the authorities?  You say, "Max, don't be silly!  Of course not!"  And that is right.  Friends, I have to admit that there was a time in my life when, if I had followed the new directives used at the University of Missouri, I would have had an almost daily police protection.  I would like to tell those students, "Grow up!"  Yes, words can be hurtful.  I think of all the hurtful words that were hurled against Jesus as He hung upon that cross for you and for me.  I cannot begin to imagine the vindictive tone of the voices of those who hurled one insult after another.  Yet, what was the response of Jesus?  Did He protest?  No, He forgave! 

The problem in our country today is that we are so focused upon ourselves and our rights and our feelings that we have little regard for others.  Of course, it is politically correct to be sensitive to only certain words.  I need to be sensitive when I talk about gender - I don't want to offend anyone.  So, if I am walking around the campus of the University of Missouri I had better be careful about using the "gay" or "homosexual" words or I might offend someone and soon have the police at my shoulder.  I also need to be sensitive when I talk about race - I don't want to offend anyone.  So, if I am walking around the campus of the University of Missouri I had better be careful about how I speak of "black Americans" or I might offend someone and soon have the police at my shoulder.  However, I do not need to be careful at all as to how I speak of Christians - after all, they are always a welcome fodder for our conversations. 

Friends, the Bible instructs us that we are to be careful in our speech.  The way I guard my speech is to guard what goes into my heart for Jesus said, "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.'  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matthew 15:19).  My speech is a reflection of my heart.  So, yes I need to exercise care.

But, we do live in a land where we still have a First Amendment which proclaims that I do have the right to freedom of speech.  That Amendment gives me the right to say what I want to say.  A person may not like it, but I can still say it.  This "right" is being taken from us.  Will there now be "thought police" at the University of Missouri?  They had those in Nazi Germany.  Will people be afraid to speak out now because someone might just be listening who would be offended?  When a culture becomes afraid to engage in significant dialogue and surrenders to the political correctness of the moment, that culture soon will die. 

Think about that statement for a moment: If we surrender to the political correctness of the moment, that culture soon will die.  Look at what the world is pressuring us to become.  Let's all have the same amount of money - no rich people, no poor people.  (Note: been tried before and didn't work too well, so was abandoned; why? because there is no incentive to work).  Let's all think alike - everyone thinks about everything in the same way - no diversity of thought.  Let's all believe the same way - everyone is going to heaven, so why make a big deal out of Jesus.  (Note: sadly this is the belief of so many, including some evangelicals).  Let's all be part of the same government - one-worldism is growing. 

As I look at what happened these past few days on the University of Missouri campus, I realized that we simply are turning another page toward the coming of the Lord Jesus.  And for that I get very excited.  How about you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Dying with Peace and Hope

This past Sunday afternoon, my brother slipped away from the cares of this life into those unimaginable joys of glory.  Cancer may have claimed his body, but it could not claim his soul.  His confidence of his destination was evidenced by the peace he displayed throughout the many months of his battle with that horrible disease. 

During my 43 years in ministry I have had the opportunity of sitting by the bedsides of many as they ended their journey.  Some have died in such agony as I believe they become conscious of an eternal destiny without Christ.  Their rebellion against God was completed as they died.  Satan gives no peace at the end because he knows no peace.  He only takes; he never gives in return.  Those moments with those families became very difficult.  What can one say to a family whose loved one has died without knowing Jesus Christ as Savior?  There certainly is no hope; all one can do is talk about what was done in this life but make no mention of what is happening in the life after death.

But oh to sit beside the bed of one who knows the reality of sins forgiven, who knows the joys that await him or her.  They say with the Apostle Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.  Therefore there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord will award me on that day."  Those words could be said of my brother.  He knew where he was going.  And he knew the way. 

Friends, I cannot begin to understand all that heaven must be.  The Bible only gives us such short glimpses into glory.  But, even with those short glimpses we stand in awe of that place God has prepared for us.  I love reading Revelation 4 and 5.  I would encourage you to read them soon.  Read those verses slowly and let your mind begin to picture what John is describing.  Soon you, too, will be singing songs of praise to our God.  Heaven is truly indescribable.  We know more of what is not in heaven than of what is in heaven.  Revelation 21 and 22 help us to understand that.  But of this we are certain: heaven is where Jesus is and if that is all heaven would be, that would be more than enough. 

I wish I could visit with my brother right now.  I wish my phone would ring and I would hear those words, "This is your younger brother."  I believe he would talk until my cell phone battery died and still not lack for things to say.  I believe he would put my Dad on the phone.  Mike knew of my love for the prophet Isaiah, so perhaps he would have him give me a greeting - hopefully someone would translate from the ancient Hebrew for me.  But I will never receive that phone call.  But I can know that my brother is now with the Lord.  His battle with pain is completed.  His body, which had been so destroyed because of the cancer, is now whole.  Instead of pain, he has joy.  My brother was never one to sing - guess that is a male tendency in the Frazier clan as my father could only sing one note well; he always said he made a "joyful noise unto the Lord" - but my brother is singing now. 

What makes the difference between dying with no hope and dying with hope?  That difference Maker is Jesus Christ.  As a young boy my brother had placed his trust in Christ and that decision carried him through life.  As I love to tell people, referring them to Romans 5:1, when a person receives Jesus Christ as Savior, the war with God ends; Paul says we have "the peace with God."  And, in Romans 8:1 he reminds us that, with Christ as our Savior, we will never stand condemned before God because Jesus Christ took our condemnation on the cross. 

Friends, my brother Mike knew where he was going.  And as the end came last Sunday afternoon, he rested his soul into the hands of Jesus.  And so, as we would always say when we closed our phone calls, "Mike, I'll talk to you later."  And it may not be that far away!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Saying "Good-by" to My Brother

I spent some time yesterday with my younger brother - younger by some 17 months - who is in the final days of his life here on this earth.  Over a year ago he was diagnosed with kidney cancer which had metastasized in his bones.  He went through many rounds of chemotherapy which helped him to have a measure of quality of life with his family for many months.  But this cancer would not surrender to the chemo, although it was attacked by those drugs vigorously. 

My brother is home having expressed that as his desire.  I had last seen my brother some ten days earlier.  He had been alert and we talked about politics - which he loved to do; we had many conversations through the years as he pushed 18 wheels down between the two white stripes on the highway.  He joked with the nurses who came in to administer his medications.  I could tell that he was in a lot of pain, but it was being monitored with his newly acquired morphine-pump.  I put my hand on this shoulder - he winced because of the pain - and I prayed for him and his family.  I said, "Mike, I may never get to see you again here on this side of glory, but I will see you up there someday."  We both had tears as we said good-bye.  Our usual way of ending a conversations was, "Talk to you later." 

As I walked into my brother's room yesterday, I could hardly believe what I saw.  He had slipped into a deep-sleep, perhaps one might call it a coma.  His breathing was shallow but would be interrupted with an occasional gasp for more air.  His eyes were nearly closed and his body was at rest.  I leaned over the side of his bed and told him I was there.  I think he knew my voice as he tried to move his head and briefly looked up at me; then the eyes closed once again.  As my Mom and I sat around his bedside with his wife and daughter, we talked as if Mike were part of the conversation.  I have been told by many that people who are in a coma can hear those conversations, so we were careful in our discussions. 

Then it was time to leave.  I once again put my hand upon Mike's shoulder and prayed, thanking God for those drugs that were keeping his final days as pain-free as possible; thanking God for a loving wife who was as an angel in her care for her husband; and asking God to surround that family with His love and care as they watched and waited.  And, as I was leaving, I said to my brother, "Mike, I know I will never see you again here, but I will look forward to seeing you in glory." 

As I drove home several thoughts lingered in my mind.  First, I tried to imagine what my brother's expressions might be when he steps through those portals into glory.  My brother was a truck-driver for over 35 years.  He once told me that he had driven truck in every state except for Alaska and Hawaii, and had logged well over a million miles - probably closer to two million.  If there are trucks in heaven, I know my brother will stand in line to get behind the wheels of one.  I know he will search through the crowds looking for our Dad and our grandparents.  I don't believe we can ever comprehend what those first views of eternity will be like...but I am guessing that they will be pretty fantastic.

Second, I realized once again that, even though we know the joys and glories of heaven that await those who lie there in that bed, we struggle with "letting go."  I put my arms around my niece and she said that it was so hard to see her Dad lying there and yet it was so hard to let him go.  I thought of that scene at the foot of the cross of Jesus and wondered how Mary handled the "letting go" of her son.  I think Jesus sensed her struggle when he invited John to take care of her - she was going to need someone.  We struggle with "letting go" because of the love that binds us together.  Yesterday I had flash-back moments of standing beside the bed of my Dad in those final hours of his life.  My Dad was my best-friend.  How could I manage without his counsel?  Yet I knew I needed to "let him go."  Death is a "letting go", isn't it?  Never easy, but vitally important.  And, it is easier to "let go" when we know where our loved-one is going. 

Third, as I watched Mike's wife tenderly care for him, carefully swabbing his mouth with the little sponge, gently wiping his beard with a towel after trying to get him to swallow a little broth.  She was aware of any hint of discomfort and knew exactly what to do.  I called her an angel.  She did that because of her love for her husband.  And then I thought of the Lord Jesus and those familiar words of David came to mind: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."  That is exactly what Jesus does: He tenderly takes us by the hand and with a love that knows no limitations, He leads us safely home. 

I do not know how many days my brother has here - my prayer is that God would soon call him home.  I will miss my brother - those conversations while he was driving down the road - his contagious laugh - his friendship.  But I am blessed to know that our separation will only be for a short while; then a glorious reunion will occur.  "Therefore, comfort one another with these words."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why the Violence in Israel? A Theory

Almost daily we hear of violent attacks in and around the city of Jerusalem.  IDF soldiers are shot.  A young couple traveling to their home are murdered in front of their children.  A rampaging car leaps a curb while the driver attempts to hit as many people as possible standing at the bus stop.  Men and women, often with children in tow, are suddenly attacked with knives or machetes.  And, as they seek to defend themselves, Jewish authorities have killed many Palestinians. 

Why, all of a sudden, the violence?  What has changed?  The central feature in this renewed violence is the status of the Temple Mount - a place within the Old City of Jerusalem that is held sacred by both Jews and Muslims.  The Muslims claim that it was from here that the Prophet Mohammed ascended one night into heaven; it is the third most holy site in Islam.  Atop the Temple Mount today stands the Dome of the Rock, a structure built 691, along with the Al Aqsa Mosque, from which sermons are preached on Fridays, often laced with vitriolic words.  Since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, the Muslim Waqif has controlled the access to the Temple Mount. 

Along the western side of the Temple Mount lies the Western Wall, or, sometimes called the Wailing Wall.  It is the only part of the Temple that remains from the Second Temple period, remembering that the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 AD.  This place is the holiest site for Jews.  Daily, hundreds of Jews come to the Western Wall to meditate and to pray.  I have been to the Wall many times and it is quite an experience. 

So, you are saying, why all the commotion now?  Earlier this summer, Muslim youth, attending services at the Al Aqsa Mosque, were seen carrying rocks, catapult-like machines, and knives into the Mosque with the purpose of using hurling those rocks upon the Jewish pilgrim worshiping below at the Western Wall.  Jewish Authorities gave the Waqif a period of time to clean out the weapons, which they refused.  So, Israeli authorities sent in police that stood in front of the Mosque.  This created a call that the Jews had assaulted the Temple Mount.  And thus the violence began. 

That incident may have been the catalyst for the present violence, but I believe there are two deeper factors that are keeping the violence alive.  First, back in September, in his address before the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated that the Palestinians would no longer honor any agreement that had been reached with the State of Israel, thus nullifying the Oslo Accords which had been the legacy of the Clinton Administration.  He further stated that the Palestinians would destroy Israel , even so far as encouraging violence.  And since that speech, President Abbas has been reported as using inflammatory words to keep the Palestinian anger riled against the Jews. 

Second, I believe what we are seeing in Israel is an aftermath of the Iranian Nuclear Accords which were signed this past Sunday and now are in effect.  Suddenly the Iranian regime is being blessed with the receipt of $150 billion as sanctions are lifted.  It does not take a rocket scientist's mind to calculate what they plan to do with much of that new-found wealth.  We know that Hamas (Gaza Strip) and Hezbollah (Southern Lebanon) are proxies of Tehran.  The leadership of those two organizations committed to the annihilation of Israel are now competing for funds and weapons from Tehran.  How could you prove your value than to encourage violent attacks upon Israeli citizens.  You don't need just rockets any longer; you can use knife-wielding or truck-driving terrorists.  Last night I had the privilege of being a gathering with a Jewish Rabbi who was visiting from Israel.  I shared with him my theory and he concurred as to its possibility. 

And then there is the added presence of ISIS in the region.  I was reading an article this morning from The Israel Project website that cited a series of "ISIS propaganda videos released on Sunday praising the latest terror attacks and calling for more.  The videos urge Palestinians to 'return terror to the Jews' and to use any means at their disposal to carry out attacks, including knives, vehicles, poison and explosives.  The terrorist responsible for the attack on Sunday at the Beersheba central bus station that killed an IDF soldier and injured 11 people was inspired by ISIS. The title of one of the videos released by ISIS is 'Project Behead the Jews' and in another video, the speaker says, 'we will not enjoy our lives or take pleasure with a lavish abode until we liberate Al-Aqsa from the defilement of the sons of apes and pigs.'"  This is hardly rhetoric that defuses an already dangerous climate. 

Then, to add fuel to the proverbial fire, I read yesterday that the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) would be voting on a petition presented by six Arab States (Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates) on behalf of Palestine that would "fold the Jewish Western Wall into Islamic domain on the Temple Mount."  Friends, this is another attempt by the Muslim world to rewrite history, to purge every vestige of Jewish presence from the past in and around Jerusalem.  But how can one erase history?  The evidence of Jewish presence is almost insurmountable.  I have walked through some of the archaeological digs just outside the walls of the Old City.  It is an amazing journey back into time - not Muslim time, but Jewish time.  Ancient synagogues, ancient water systems, and ancient walls tell the stories of an ongoing Jewish presence for centuries before Mohammed was even born.  Thankfully, I read this morning that the UNESCO Committee did not adopt that portion of the petition that called for the ceding of the Western Wall into Muslim control.  But, mark my word, the Palestinians will try again and again. 

The Bible instructs us to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6).  And so we do.  But real peace will only come when King Jesus returns to accept that throne that is rightfully His there in Jerusalem.  Then, and only then, will there be true peace.  So, as we "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" today, yes, we are praying for the violence to end, but we are also praying that Jesus would come soon.  Yes, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fall Points to a Time of Rest

I enjoy the fall season of the year.  The colors here in Minnesota have been extraordinarily beautiful this fall.  Must have been the warm, wet summer that made the tree leaves so alive.  And the fields of pumpkins are dotted with the amazing orange spheres that will soon become jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin pies.  As the leaves begin to fall, one can see the myriad of nests the squirrels have built as their winter homes.  I always have wondered how those nests built of twigs and leaves can withstand those fierce winter winds.  But they do.  And who can resist a hot mug of apple cider with a twist of cinnamon?  Couple that with a warm apple donut and a perfect evening is created. 

As one sees the changing landscapes of fall, a person has to marvel at God's great design.  Creation, at least in the northern climes, needs a time of rest.  God knew this.  Trees need a rest - thus the shedding of the leaves.  Fields need a rest - thus the lack of planting and growing.  Even some animals need a rest - thus the long time of hibernation.  The fall season is a reminder that God often asks us to slow down, to rest.

Rest, when you come to think of it, was what God did after six long days of creation.  The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:2, "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."  God rested!  The need for rest is a part of God's creative plan for His creation and for the pinnacle of His creation, namely man.  Yes, God expected man to work, for work is also a part of God's creative plan (Genesis 2:15 - "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.")  But work needs to be balanced with rest.  When it came time for the children of Israel to receive those laws that would govern them as a nation, the fourth commandment stated, "Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11) 

Now rest is not laziness.  In fact, I believe many people often work hard at being lazy.  Rest does not mean inactivity.  In fact, a change of activity from what is normal can often be a great way to rest.  How important it is for us to understand that God has built a desire within each of us for rest.  Such rest is a time when we can reconnect with God.  Such rest is a time when we can reconnect with our families.  Such rest is a time when we can reconnect with ourselves. 

I know we live in an age when we are almost prideful of our busyness.  We run hither and thither often acting like a "chicken with its head cut off."  I can still close my eyes and see my grandfather swing his axe and off would come a chicken's head; then he would let it flop around.  That chicken would flop all over but had no idea where it was going.  Such scenes are often what our culture demands of us.  We create one activity after another seeking to fill our calendars with events - sporting events, cultural events, school events, and even, sadly, church events.  And today our busyness is compounded with our technological toys.  A few quiet moments become an opportunity to send a text or play a game or use the Internet.  Perhaps we equate activity with spirituality; but that is a wrong equation to make. 

I want to rediscover the value of rest.  I want to rediscover the significance of "being still before a holy God."  I want to know that "the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20).  Rest does not come automatically.  Rest does not come with a sincere desire.  Rest has to become a priority; it has to be something that we diligently seek after.  Just as creation prepares itself for a time of rest, so you and I need to prepare ourselves for a time of rest.  Perhaps it is to rediscover the value of Sunday being our Sabbath, our day of rest.  Perhaps it is to rediscover the significance of taking a week away from work - remember, leave your laptop at home and don't use that cellphone unless it is an emergency; the office can survive without you for a few days - and spending time with your family.  Perhaps you will rediscover rest by simply opening God's Word as you sit in your favorite rocking chair and allowing Him to speak to your heart in the quietness of an early morning or late evening. 

Friends, our souls long for rest.  Our bodies long for rest.  Our relationship with a living God longs for rest.  My prayer is that God will cause us to diligently prepare and seek for His rest, and that, as we experience that rest, our souls and bodies will become re-energizer with His power and His presence. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is the Antichrist's Stage Being Prepared?

It almost seems that the events of the world are happening at warp-speed.  Almost daily there are the reminders of the ever-increasing darkness that seeks to envelop this world.  Yet there are those moments when the light of truth shines through as well.  We are in the midst of a cultural and spiritual war for the souls of those who inhabit planet earth.  The Bible reminds us often that this cultural-spiritual war will only reach a conclusion when King Jesus comes to claim His rightful throne there in Jerusalem.  Until that day Jesus said we would hear of wars and rumors of war; lawlessness would increase; and even the hearts of men would grow faint. 

Last Thursday I watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the United Nations General Assembly.  If you did not have an opportunity of seeing this speech, I highly encourage you to watch it on you-tube.  The Prime Minister spoke powerfully against the recently UN approved P5+1 treaty with Iran on nuclear weapons.  The high-point of the speech came after the Prime Minister criticized the Iranian nuclear deal as providing Tehran with some international acceptance and a clear path toward developing a nuclear weapon.  The Prime Minister said, "As a leader of a country defending itself every day against Iran's growing aggression, I wish I could take comfort in the claim that this deal blocks Iran's path to nuclear weapons, but I can't, because it doesn't.  Here's the catch.  Under this deal, if Iran doesn't change it's behavior, if Iran becomes more dangerous in the years to come, the most important constraints will still be automatically lifted by year 10 and again by year 15."  He then cited the recent statement of the Iranian religious leader, made just days after the Iranian deal was signed in Switzerland, that the Iranians would destroy Israel within 25 years.  Netanyahu, referring to that threat said, "...and the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here has been absolutely nothing - utter silence, deafening silence."  Then the Prime Minister stood with a silent gaze over the Assembly for nearly a minute.  His eyes just moved from one end of the Assembly to the other almost as to reinforce the concept of how disturbing their silence had been.  He then declared that the days of Israel's silence were over and that they would defend themselves.  Of the speeches I watched during the course of the opening of the General Assembly, the Prime Minister's was most powerful. 

Yet, even as the Prime Minister was speaking before the General Assembly, outside, in the arena displaying the flags of the member-states of the United Nations, a new flag was hoisted for the very first time - the Palestinian flag.  This flag-raising came in the aftermath of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's statement that the Palestinians will not longer abide by the Oslo Accords.  On that Wednesday, September 30, the Palestinian leader had said, "All security agreements with Israel are now annulled."  And it has been interesting to see the increase in violence in Israel, particularly around Jerusalem, since Abbas uttered those words.  The hopes for a peaceful agreement seem to be fading quickly away.  The Bible seems to affirm that there is only one who will resolve this seemingly unresolvable conflict and he will do so through intrigue and threats.  His name is - the Antichrist.  You can read about him in Daniel 9.  So it seems that we are one-step closer to the end-times. 

I shared with you in last week's blog about the presence of Russian and Iranian military forces in Syria.  Under the pretense of fighting against ISIS, Russian warplanes have attacked those forces that have been opposing the Assad regime.  The Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped into the leadership vacuum created when our President vacated his "red line" approach in Syria's civil war.  Could this be the beginning of Ezekiel's War?  I can't speak with total confidence, but it sure seems to be the precursor to that event. 

I want to refer you to an article that I found alarming, yet very prophetic in its implications.  It was written by Leo Hohmann and posted at  The article begins with this statement: "The United Nations 2030 Agenda endorsed by President Obama, Pope Francis and the U.N. General Assembly brings the world one giant step closer to true global governance.  The U.N. document approved Sunday (September 27) in New York, 'Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,' includes in its preamble the call for a 'new universal agenda' for all of humanity."  This document has as its focus the elimination of world-wide poverty, combating climate change, the elimination of gender inequality, and resolution of the immigrant and refugee crises.  Paul McGuire, a Fox News and History Channel contributor, after reading the document said, "The only thing they are lacking right now is a sufficient crisis big enough to win enthusiastic public support in America and other nations in the world for full-on global governance.  But, remember, the elite who are behind this are experts at manufactured crisis and their motto is 'ordo ab chao,' which means 'order out of chaos.'  The new global order will be birthed by either a global financial crisis, the prospect of World War III involving Islam, Russia, Ukraine, NATO, Iran, Syria and Israel and a manufactured climate-change crisis."  Is this a preparation for the coming of the Antichrist?  Sure seems that the stage is being prepared for the acclaimed world leader.  He is in the wings awaiting his coronation.  Friends, this is a frightening article, but a must-read if we are to fully understand the workings of the leaders of the world at this moment. 

Finally, I want to just speak for a few moments into the tragic shooting in Roseburg, Oregon this past week at Umpqua Community College.  We have learned that the shooter had instructed those in that classroom to lie on the floor.  Then he instructed them to stand and he asked if they were a Christian.  If they said "yes," then they were shot in the head; if they said, "no," then they were shot in the legs.  The targets for the shooter's rage were Christians - not atheists, not Hindus, not Muslims, not humanists.  Yet the mainstream media organizations and our governmental officials, including our President, failed to focus upon that one fact.  Christians were martyred for their faith, not in Egypt or in Syria or in Iraq, but here in the United States.  This is a sobering thought.  Christians in America have been assaulted emotionally and spiritually in recent years with the advancement of the same-sex marriage philosophy.  Christians have been assaulted economically as many have lost their places of business or careers because of their stand for what they believe to be biblical truth.  And now we see Christians losing their lives because of their faith in Christ.  I asked myself this question: If I had been one of those lying on that classroom floor, what would have been my response to the shooter's question?  What would have been your response?  As I have shared with my congregation on several occasions, the time to think about how to answer that question is not when the occasion arises; the time to resolve what your response will be is now!  Sadly I believe what occurred in Roseburg, Oregon, will be repeated again and again.  Are you ready?  Am I ready? 

Praise God we can place our faith and trust and even our very lives in Him.  Yes, it is time to stand up and be counted.  It is time to be a Daniel in our world.  Read again his story in Daniel 1-6.  Let his resolve become yours and mine.  Let his boldness to stand for truth in the presence of error be yours and mine.  Let his willingness to die for truth become your willingness and mine. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Of Putin, Russia, Iran, Syria and Israel

It has been an interesting week watching and listening to the world's leaders as they have come and addressed the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.  Each leader has come and basically trumpeted the achievements of his or her country and leveled accusations at those nations who have not agreed with them.  I found it very interesting that both President Obama and Russian President Putin shared speeches on the same day.  As I read their speeches, these leaders could not have been more opposite.  Just from a casual observer's perspective, it seemed that the Russian President came with a feeling of confidence.  Yes, there have been the problems with Ukraine, but Putin has been seen as the one who could solve the problems in Syria.  Now, personally, I don't trust Putin at all, and, if you remember, I have often said that he is one of the most dangerous men in the world.  Yet he is willing to lead, or at least give the perception of leading.  His speech almost had the air of confidence.  On the other hand, President Obama pretty much said the same thing he said last year.  He promised that America would show its determination with its military power, but most of the world knows that our President, over the course of his presidency, has done more to weaken our military than any of his predecessors.  He has made promises before - like his infamous "red line" with the Syrians - but has not followed through.  Is his just an empty rhetoric?  America may claim to still be the greatest nation on earth - and, from many perspectives, I would agree with that - but I wonder if much of the world still sees us in that light? 

Speaking of Putin, the following article from the Jerusalem Post presents some anxious moments if you are an Israeli leaders.  The article, published on September 29, reads in part: "Following a 90-minute meeting on Monday with US President Barack Obama on the conflict in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was concerned with Israel's Sunday strike on Syria, that was prompted by cross-border fire originating from Syrian army positions.  'We respect Israel's interests related to the Syrian civil war but we are concerned about its attacks on Syria,' Putin said, according to Army Radio.  The Syrian projectile exploded in an unpopulated area of the northern Golan Heights, causing no injuries or damage. ... Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Syrian civil war battles were behind the stray fire into Israel on Saturday and Sunday. 'From our perspective this is a violation of sovereignty and a crossing of a red line.  The State of Israel has no intention of ignoring such incidents, and the IDF therefore attacked two Syrian army artillery positions this evening,' Ya'alon said.  'We view the Syrian regime and its army as being responsible for what happens in their territory and we will not be tolerant in cases such as these,' the defense minister said."

What makes this statement by Putin so alarming is the fact that Russia is now sending military forces to assist the Assad regime in its battle against ISIS in Syria.  Russian forces could soon, literally, be on the doorsteps of Israel in their role to assist Assad.  Can anyone say Ezekiel 38-39?  But, there is another grave concern if you are an Israeli leader.

Again, another article from the same September 29 issue of the Jerusalem Post.  "Likud Minister Steinitz says Israel will make it clear to US, Russia and other world powers that Iranian forces must not be allowed to mass on Israel's border.  Israel is concerned with the build-up of Iranian forces in Syria, near the border with Israel, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday.  Steinitz's comments came amid the recent addition of Russian troops to Syria to bolster President Bashar Assad in his fight against Islamic State and other rebel groups challenging his rule in Syria.  However, the Likud minister was more concerned with the infusion of troops from Assad's other central backer, Iran.  'Nobody wants to see Russian forces in the area of the Golan Heights, but we definitely don't want to see Iranian forces near Israel,' Steinitz told Army Radio."

The article continued, "A senior Israeli security source said earlier this month that an Iranian Islamic Republican Guards Corp force, comprised of hundreds of soldiers, recently entered Syria to assist the embattled Assad regime.  Tehran dispatched its force 'in light of Assad's' ongoing distress, the source stated, adding that the deployment is part of a wider Russian-Iranian coordinated effort to prevent what remains of the Assad regime from collapsing."

So, there you have it: both Russian and Iranian forces are now in Syria.  We know that both brought sophisticated weapons with them.  One can understand why Israeli leaders are nervous.  I am confident that tomorrow when it is his turn to address the General Assembly, Prime Minister Netanyahu will address these concerns in a very powerful way.  The thought of Iranian forces near their border with Syria, coupled with the recently signed Iranian Nuclear Pact, causes the Iranians to be even more threatening to the welfare of Israel.  Yet, we know that God's hand is behind all these actions.  He is orchestrating the players and the play.  And, we know how the story will end. 

Let me close by just mentioning the leadership change in the House of Representatives with the announced retirement of Speaker Boehner.  I must admit that I have been one who has been critical of his leadership these past few years.  A lot of promises were made, but still remain on the table. Boehner is a nice guy - I wouldn't mind living next door to him.  But, as with many in Washington today, he was out of touch with the common people.  He had bought into the power that is Washington.  After being in Washington for 25 years, he failed to hear what the common people were saying which was "we don't want things to continue as they have."  It is now time for someone to boldly step forward and lead boldly - not that he will get everything that the people want, but that he will demonstrate that he is not afraid to take a stand.  Can such a person be found?  I guess we will wait to find out.  By the way, I believe the success to date of the candidacies of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carli Fiorina, and also of a Bernie Sanders, is testimony to the deep-seated distrust the American public has with professional politicians.  The election of 2016 could prove to be an very interesting one.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Call for a Faith that Matters

This fall I, along with a former Elder of our church, have had the privilege of teaching a group of 22 high school students about cultivating a biblical worldview.  As churches, we often send our young people away to school or to careers thinking we have prepared them for success as Christians.  But statistics have shown that to be an invalid assumption.  Really less than a fifth of students who grow up in the church continue their walk with the church as they venture away from home.  Many falter along the way. 

As a church we asked ourselves why this occurs so frequently.  We discovered two responses to that question.  First, many of our young people today are not seeing modeled within their own families the viability of having a Christian faith.  What is proclaimed on Sunday is found lacking in the everyday experiences of Monday through Saturday.  Second, many of young people today have never had the opportunity of claiming ownership of their faith.  They have what I call a "second-hand faith."  It has been borrowed from their parents or grandparents or youth leaders.  But it has never become a part of who they are as a follower of Jesus Christ. 

After this discovery, our church proceeded to work toward rectifying both problems.  We began a focus on the family becoming part of the Faith@Home network of churches.  Our ministry purpose is to help parents so that they can disciple their own children in the things of the Lord, modeling after the principles found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:1-4.  We have created "milestone" moments to assist and to train parents in their biblical responsibilities.  We are seeing families come together for both study and for worship.  As a pastor it is so exciting to see entire families in our Worship Center sharing in worship together.  Yes+-, we get a dropped pacifier from the balcony once in a while, or a toddler will make a fuss, but oh the delight that God must get when He sees entire families worshiping Him.  As a church we still have a long way to go before we feel that we where God would have us to be, but the journey, so far, has been an incredible one. 

As we focused upon our young people God created within us a strong desire to have our teens thoroughly grounded in the Word of God.  We already have a strong AWANA and Sunday school ministry to elementary children and our Middle School ministry is growing.  But we wanted to do even more.  Our eighth-grade students spend a year in Old Testament Survey.  Our ninth-grade students spend a three months in New Testament Survey, thus completing a study of the entire Bible.  Then, those same ninth-grade students will spend four months in a Survey of Bible Doctrine where they are exposed to those basic tenants of the faith.  As part of their homework assignments, they begin to write their own statements of faith - beginning that process of claiming ownership of what they believe.  This year we have added an elective class for high school students on a Biblical Worldview.  During this 22-week class, the students will begin to cultivate disciplined and critical thinking skills as they begin to see their world from a biblical perspective.  Next year a second elective will be offered to high school students that will focus upon a historical geography of the Bible.  Our Youth Pastor spent four-weeks this summer in Israel preparing herself for this class.  The students will once again travel through the pages of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, focusing upon the key events, places, and people.  At the close of this class - if the students have successfully completed all four years of study - these students will have the opportunity of taking a trip to the Holy Land to experience for themselves those places they have studied.  Upon their return, a final elective class on apologetics, now in the planning stages, will be be offered.  The students will once again have the opportunity of revisiting their own statements of faith and cultivate a dense for that faith. 

I am reminded of the words of Paul to his young disciple Timothy: "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your other Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also" (2 Timothy 1:5).  Timothy had learned the foundations of his faith at home from his mother and grandmother.  Or there are these words from Solomon, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6).  Again the focus is upon the home.  Parents are to help their children begin to form that foundation upon which those children will build their lives.  They can do this by reading the Bible to their children.  I believe that by the time a child reaches kindergarten, they should have been exposed to the major stories within the entire Bible.  David and Daniel, Moses and Noah, Peter and Paul, as well as Jesus Himself should be names that your child is familiar with.  Then they proceed through Sunday school and AWANA clubs, (or any program like that), and begin to hear those stories told once again.  Then, during those middle school and high school years, those students are given tools and opportunity to add some superstructure to that foundation upon which they have grown their lives.  Then, the church, working hand-in-hand with parents, will see more young people leave home fully equipped unto every good work. 

Friends, the times demand that the church equip parents to do ministry within their own homes.  The pressures upon families today are intense with our culture seeking the destruction of the family.  The Church has failed in thinking that their role was to usurp that God-given responsibility entrusted into the hands of those families.  But the Church working together with families, like putting a hand into a glove, can confidently grow children into young men and women who have a passion to serve the Lord and to remain strong in their faith.  This may be our last opportunity, so let's use those moments well.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fall, Faith, and Politics

I love the fall season of the year.  Soon the hillsides will be alive with color.  The crops are beginning to show signs of maturity - can combining be far behind.  The apple trees hang heavy with fruit this year.  Reports say it will be one of the best apple harvests that Minnesota has had in recent years.  Marlys and I had fun with a couple of our grandkids going to the orchard to pick apples and raspberries.  What a great morning!  The Friday night skies are brightened with the lights from football fields that dot many a small community.  In those communities, high school football becomes a premier social event for the community.  Ah, the majesty of fall.

Another fall scene is of yellow buses carrying eager young minds to our many schools.  As parents we gladly send our children off to school trusting that they will receive, not only a quality education, but also cultivate skills that will enable them to celebrate life.  Now I must admit that I loved school.  In fact, I would have enjoyed going to school year round.  I was the kid who enrolled into the summer school program.  I was the kid who kept his nose in a book over the summer.  I loved learning - in fact, I still do. 

But, alas, all is not well in our schools.  Bob Unruh posted this article on the WND website:  He writes, "Amid a new report of Islamic indoctrination in public schools, the American Center for Law and Justice is fighting back with a petition drive that already has garnered 120,000 signatures.  Earlier this year, public-school students in Madison, Wisconsin, were given an assignment to 'pretend you are Muslim,' while students in Florida were instructed to 'recite the Five Pillars of Islam as a prayer, make Islamic prayer-rugs and perform other Muslim rituals,' ACLJ said Monday.  Now, parents of public-school students in Tennessee are protesting assignments that include writing a declaration that Allah is supreme and textbooks that recount Islamic doctrines as facts instead of beliefs."  

Does this pose a problem for you?  What would the response be if students were asked to memorize the Lord's Prayer or the Ten Commandments?  What would the response be if students were asked to write a paper on the life of Jesus and to understand and then state that He is the Son of God?  The ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation get into an uproar when a teacher merely has a Bible on his/her desk.  They cry, "First Amendment," and "separation of church and state."  Yet their voice is silent when it is the Koran that is studied; when it is the life of Mohammed that is studied; when it is the tenants of Islamic faith that are not just taught but memorized. 

Friends, if I were living in a Muslim country, I would expect that, when my children went to the public schools, that they would be taught the facts and beliefs behind Islam, for after all, the Islamic faith is the foundation of that country.  If I wanted my children to understand their Christian beliefs, I would do so in the confines of my own home.  Now we live in a nation that has as its foundational roots, not the Koran and Islam, but the Bible and Judeo-Christian faith.  The Supreme Court ruled that the Bible and Judeo-Christian faith cannot be taught in our public schools, except as referenced in a history or literature class and then only as how that faith impacted a culture or civilization.  And, as much as I have never liked that ruling, I have accepted it.  My children learned those foundational principles of faith at home and while attending church.  I did not expect the public schools to teach my children a Christian faith.  However, I also did not expect the public schools to tear down those faith principles that I was teaching my children.  I did not want that institution to belittle my children because of their beliefs. 

Now I know that God has filled many a public school classroom with godly teachers who are committed to biblical truth.  We have some amazing Christian teachers who attend our church and who work within the local public school system.  I know their heart and that, in their own ways, they seek to be an encouragement and blessing to their students.  When I have the occasion to share with such teachers, I remind them that they are on the front lines of one of the most important mission fields today.  And I pray for them.  And I am grateful for godly men and women who still are willing to be part of the local community school board.  Theirs is a difficult and often thankless task, but they see their roles as one to guard the interests of the children. 

But what is happening in the public schools is accelerating those home-schooling their children.  It is advancing the creation of Christian school - based both on a traditional learning style and the Classical learning style.  Because of what is happening in the public-school arena, it becomes more critically important that moms and dads truly become engaged with their sons and daughters and teach them or disciple them into the heritage of their faith.  Faith at home does matter today, perhaps more so than at any time in our recent past.  Those principles shared by God through Moses in Deuteronomy 6 are as important today as they were when they were written down some 3500 years ago. 

I also want to share with you one other article that greatly interested me.  It was written by David Limbaugh and focuses upon the phenomenon of Donald Trump.  You can find the article at:  I am not going to quote from the article.  I will let you read it for yourself.  Now I am not a Trump-fan or supporter.  However, I do believe that he is striking a cord with grass-roots America.  It is almost as if he has looked into America's soul and is articulating what is there.  He understands America's growing distrust of professional governmental leaders.  He understands America's growing distrust of promises to gain an election but then are never fulfilled following that election.  What I find very interesting is the silent rise of Ben Carson in the polls.  He, too, is speaking to the heart of main-stream America but in a quieter, gentler way.  One views Dr. Carson as a person you could have absolute confidence in to tell you the absolute truth, just as you would want your family physician to do.  We are a long way from those early caucuses and primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.  But, for this political-junkie, these are amazing days. 

Friends, I want to wish you all a "shana tova" on this Rosh Hashana week.  Yom Kippur is a week from today, followed by the Feast of Tabernacles.  Many believe that Jesus Christ will return during the Jewish celebration of the fall feasts.  Perhaps they are right.  But, as I look out over a world that is teetering on the edge, I draw hope from the fact that Jesus Christ will return.  Perhaps it might be this fall.  Wouldn't that be great?  Are you ready for the trumpet to blow?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

It Is Back to School Time

Today the United States Congress will begin deliberations on the nuclear arms agreement recently signed between the P5+1 and Iran.  (It is interesting that this is an agreement and not a treaty, thereby skirting the constitutional requirement that all treaties pass by a 2/3 vote in the Senate.)  President Obama has been able to get the required 34 votes from senators that would prevent any over-riding of his threatened veto of a congressional declaration against this agreement.  In reality, any vote of the Congress would have little effect on the agreement as President Obama side-stepped the Congress and took this agreement directly to the United Nations Security Council where it was approved overwhelmingly. 

What will the impact of this agreement mean?  I read an interesting article this past weekend written by one of my favorite editorialists.  Her name is Caroline Glick.  She published this on September 3 in The Jerusalem Post.  She writes in part, "Sometimes you have to fight battles you cannot win because fighting - regardless of the outcome - advances a larger cause.  Israel's fight against the nuclear deal the major powers, led by US President Barack Obama concluded with Iran was such a battle.  The battle's futility became clear on July 20, just six days after it was concluded in Vienna.  On July 20, the US administration anchored the deal - which paves the way for Iran to become a nuclear power and enriches the terrorism-sponsoring ayatollahs to the tune of $150 billion - in a binding UN Security Council resolution.  Once the resolution passed, the deal became unstoppable.  Most of the frozen funds that comprise the $150b would have been released regardless of congressional action.  And the nonproliferation regime the US developed over the past 70 years was upended the moment the deal was concluded in Vienna.  The fight in Congress itself probably couldn't have succeeded even if the administration hadn't made an end run around the lawmakers at the Security Council.  After Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, passed the law obligating Obama to secure the support of a mere third of the members of either House to implement his nuclear deal, its implementation was a foregone conclusion.  The US Constitution gives sole power to approve international treaties to the Senate and requires a minimum of two-thirds approval for passage.  Corker turned the Constitution on its head when he went forward with his bill. Far from curbing Obama's executive outreach, Corker gave Obama unprecedented power to enact his radical, reckless nuclear agenda."

Ms. Glick then asks the question of why Israel fought so hard against this agreement.  She writes, "By fighting Obama's nuclear deal, Israel seeks to advance two larger efforts.  First, it uses the battle to expand its capacity to act without the US to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  Second, it is shaping its relations with the US both for the duration of Obama's presidency and for the day after he leaves office."  I would encourage each one to read this fascinating article.  You can find it posted on The Jerusalem Post website:

A second article that I highly recommend was one written by Marvin Olasky and published on the website:  He begins the article by stating, "E=mc2 is a simple equation compared to the mystery of what goes into good education. But I'll take a shot at proposing an education equation."  That equation he proposed is E=R3WCG.  The three Rs are: reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic.  The W is "wonder."  He writes, "If children don't develop a sense of wonder about this astounding, God-created world, they'll miss a lifetime of excitement.  Music, art, history, science, foreign langauges, and more should all make school wonder-full.  Our new testing regime doesn't have much time for wonder, and educators pay attention to the W only if they answer accurately a basic question: Who are my students?  Are they animals with above-average intelligence (compared to horses and caterpillars, but maybe not dolphins)?  Are they low-grade computers with below-average memory and above-average weight (compared to a MacBook Air)?  Or are they human beings created in the image of a God of wonder?"

He then describes C, which stands for specifically Christian education, "for only in Christ do all things hold together.  If students don't understand that God created us, they are likely to become practical atheists.  If they don't understand that God gives history meaning, they are likely to become nihilists.  Schools cannot give kids faith in Christ - only God can - but they can help students recognize their need, yearn for meaning, and not be content with wasting their lives.  If teachers want to be educators rather than prison wardens, it's vital for them to think Christianly about their students.  If they see students as bucking broncos, they'll think the job of schools is to break them.  if they see students as fleshly computers, they'll want to perform an information dump.  But if they understand that students are God's children and have souls that never die, they'll understand that just teaching to the test fails the biggest tests."

Finally, there is the letter G, "the four-letter word that more than any other determines educational and occupational success: grit."  He states that "part of grit involves fighting the desire for immediate gratification, an impulse measurable at age 4 via the marshmallow test, which starts with a small child in a room with a marshmallow and an adult. The adult tells the child he's leaving the room to run a short errand.  During that time the child is free to eat the marshmallow - but if he waits until the adult comes back, he can then eat not only that marshmallow but a second one as well."  He then cites a study done by Stanford psychology professor Walter Mischel, the inventor of the test.  A decade after administering the test, he looked in on those 4-year olds.  "He found the impatient eaters had 'lower SAT scores, higher body mass indexes, problems with drugs and trouble paying attention. ... The seconds of time preschool children were willing to delay for a preferred outcome predicted their cognitive and social competence and coping as adolescents.'"  Who would have thought that "grit" would impact education, but it does.

The writer then closes his article with these words: "But don't take school formulas too seriously: Kids are individuals and flexibility is important.  Please do take Christian education seriously: No other work is more important.  May God bless all those who make large sacrifices to bless other parents and children." 

A great article with some great thoughts to begin another school year.