Category Archives: America

Charles Manson is dead, or is he

The summer of 1969, a scruffy ex-convict with a magnetic hold on young women sent some of his disciples into the night to carry out a series of gruesome killings in Los Angeles. In so doing, Charles Manson became the leering face of evil on front pages across America and rewrote the history of an era.

Manson, the hippie cult leader who died of natural causes Sunday at age 83 after nearly half a century behind bars, orchestrated the slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six other people, butchered at two homes on successive August nights by intruders who scrawled “Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” (sic) in the victims’ blood.

The slaughter horrified the world. To many, the collateral damage included the era of peace, love and flower power.

The Manson Family killings, along with the bloodshed later that year during a Rolling Stones concert at California’s Altamont Speedway, seemed to expose the violent and drug-riddled underside of the counterculture and sent a shiver of fear through America.

“Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,” author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book “The White Album.”

Manson was every parent’s worst nightmare. The short, shaggy-haired man with hypnotic eyes was a charismatic figure with a talent for turning middle-class youngsters into mass murderers.

At a former movie ranch outside Los Angeles, he and his devotees — many of them young runaways who likened him to Jesus Christ.

( Billy’s thoughts –  Lets all hope Charles Manson find the true Jesus before he died, and repented of his sins. Read the rest of the above story.)

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Praying to bless abortion

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BreakPoint: Costly Views on “The View” Don’t Crack Under Cocktail Party Pressure

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You’re in the spotlight and you’ve just been asked about a controversial issue. What do you do?

Martin Luther, the Christian reformer who challenged the sale of indulgences five hundred years ago, is often credited with this stirring quotation:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him.”

Okay, well maybe Martin Luther didn’t actually say that. Nor did Abraham Lincoln say, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” But just because a quotation is mis-attributed doesn’t mean it’s an inaccurate summary of what the purported author believed. As a matter of fact, this passage not only closely mirrors something Luther wrote in a personal letter, but it’s consistent with the life he lived.

More importantly, this quote is true. The temptation is strong to faithfully proclaim every aspect of God’s Word except the one most controversial in our time.

We saw that recently when well-known pastor Carl Lentz appeared on ABC’s “The View.” Lentz spoke boldly and in no uncertain moral terms about the issue of racism. As well he should. Christians should condemn racism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

But when asked directly about abortion, and whether or not he considers it a sin, Lentz couldn’t give a straight answer. Instead, he spoke of having a “conversation,” of finding out a person’s “story,” where they’re from and what they believe. “I mean, God’s the judge,” he concluded. “People have to live by their own convictions.”

Predictably, the progressive studio audience heard this as an affirmation of the so-called “right to choose,” and rewarded Lentz with thunderous applause.

This upset a lot of pro-lifers who felt that this highly visible pastor had squandered a chance to speak up for the unborn. Lentz quickly took to social media to defend his word, but the damage was done. A watching world had heard a famous Christian pastor buckle on a crucial issue of our time, right after taking principled stands on other issues—issues, and this is key, that wouldn’t cost him anything with the ladies or audience of “The View.”

Now Lentz is not unique. He’s just the latest victim of what my friend Michael Miller calls “cocktail party pressure,” the urge to tone down or disavow Christian beliefs found to be distasteful in our culture. Typically, these are the so-called “culture war” issues like life, marriage, or religious liberty.

Watching Lentz on “The View” reminded me of the doctor-assisted suicide vote in Colorado last year. I was heartbroken when pastors of Colorado churches told me they didn’t want to take up the issue from the pulpit, because it was “too political.” But many of these same pastors have no hesitation whatsoever when addressing issues that are also so-called political ones, like racism or refugees.

Contrast this with someone like Ryan Anderson from the Heritage Foundation. Although not a pastor, Ryan is among the most articulate defenders of natural marriage even in the face of blistering ridicule. I’ll never forget the image of him on Piers Morgan’s show, banned from the stage, seated in a hostile crowd, graciously explaining the Christian view while the liberal hosts hurled abuse at him.

Folks, it’s so very easy to be courageous on issues where our Christian convictions are in agreement with talk show hosts and the larger cultural ethos. But we’re not just called to proclaim the truth when it’s easy. Faithfulness means standing up for what’s right precisely and especially when it’s unpopular—even when it will cost us, socially, financially, maybe even mortally.

And it’s all of us, including those of us not on television, who face this kind of pressure ourselves—the pressure to tone down or abandon what we believe. That’s why it’s crucial to decide ahead of time—before the talk show or the cocktail party—where we stand, and to always be ready to give an answer when we’re asked.

 

Costly Views on “The View”: Don’t Crack Under Cocktail Party Pressure

Check out the links in our Resources section for great materials that will help you be equipped to stand for truth, remembering the Apostle Peter’s words: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. and do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. . . 1 Peter 3: 14-15 NASB

 

Resources

The Faith: Given Once for All

  • Charles Colson, Harold Fickett | Zondervan Publishing Company
How Now Shall We Live?

  • Charles Colson, Nancy Pearcey | Tyndale House Publishers | September 1999
 

A message to NFL players and all of us

A messianic Jewish leader calls it an outrage that a group of Christian leaders are defending the right to boycott Israel.

According to the Christian Post, a coalition of 17 liberal Christian groups sent a letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to reject a bill that would make it official U.S. policy to oppose boycotts of Israel.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 to prohibit support of international state-sponsored boycotts of Israel by U.S. citizens engaged in interstate or international commerce.

 

Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, says the BDS movement, active now for several years, is attempting to hurt Israel economically.
“It’s an effort,” she says, “to hurt her image around the world.”

( Read the full story here. )

BP This Week: “We Don’t Have Answers; We Do Have Christ”

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John Stonestreet and Ed Stetzer mourn yet another mass shooting, this time of brothers and sisters in Christ in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Even if Christians don’t know what to say, they can offer support and hope—just like other churches in the area are doing.

John and Ed also talk about the misguided effort to kill the adoption tax credit, and the continuing fallout and revelations stemming from Harvey Weinstein scandal. How should we respond?

Images courtesy of tillsonburg at iStock by Getty Images and Google Maps. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.

Resources

How Christians can respond to this latest church shooting

    • Ed Stetzer

 

    • CNN

 

  • November 6, 2017
  • Listen to the program here.

BreakPoint: The Story behind the Navy Hymn In Honor of Veterans Day 2017

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I’m John Stonestreet. On this day before Veterans Day, Eric Metaxas tells us the back story to one of the great hymns.

Eric Metaxas: It’s one of the most famous hymns in Christendom: “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” It’s often called “the Navy hymn” because it’s sung at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.  But how many of us know the story behind this moving hymn?

The hymn’s author was an Anglican churchman named William Whiting, who was born in England in 1825. As a child, Whiting dodged in and out of the waves as they crashed along England’s shoreline. But years later, on a journey by sea, Whiting learned the true and terrifying power of those waves. A powerful storm blew in, so violent that the crew lost control of the vessel. During these desperate hours, as the waves roared over the decks, Whiting’s faith in God helped him to stay calm. When the storm subsided, the ship, badly damaged, limped back to port.

The experience had a galvanizing effect on Whiting. As one hymn historian put it, “Whiting was changed by this experience. He respected the power of the ocean nearly as much as he respected the God who made it and controls it.”

The memory of this voyage allowed Whiting to provide comfort to one of the boys he taught at a training school in Winchester.

One day, a young man confided that he was about to embark on a journey to America—a voyage fraught with danger at that time. The boy was filled with dread at the thought of the ordeal to come. A sympathetic Whiting described his own frightening experience, and he and the other boys prayed for the terrified student. And then Whiting told him, “Before you depart, I will give you something to anchor your faith.”

Whiting, an experienced poet, put pen to paper, writing a poem reminding the boys of God’s power even over the mighty oceans. It begins:

“Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave.”
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

Scholars believe Whiting was inspired in part by Psalm 107, which describes God’s deliverance from a great storm on the sea: In verses 28 and 29, we read: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble [and] he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”

This thought is of course echoed in the New Testament, when Jesus and his disciples are caught in a sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee; Jesus “rebuked the wind and calmed the sea.” (Mark 4:39)

In 1861, Whiting’s poem was set to music by the Rev. John Dykes. The hymn became enormously popular; British, French, and American sailors all adopted it. Winston Churchill loved it, and the hymn was performed at the funerals of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.

Over the years, those who love the hymn and the men and women it honors have written additional stanzas—verses that ask for God’s protection over Marines, Seabees, submariners, flyers, the Coast Guard and Navy SEALS. They ask God to remember the needs of wounded warriors, asking: “By power of thy breath restore, the ill and those with wounds of war.” Touchingly, one newer stanza asks God’s protection for the families of those who serve, asking, “Oh Father, hear us when we pray, for those we love so far away.”

Veterans Day is a reminder that we should be praying regularly for those who put themselves in harm’s way for our sake, for their families, and for those who suffer the after effects of combat.

And as we sing the Navy hymn, as many of us will on Sundays around Veterans’ Day, its words should also recall to our minds the fact that none of us will escape the storms and tempests of life. Its verses offer comfort and help us “anchor our faith,” as William Whiting put it, when the winds and waves of our own lives threaten to capsize us.

 

(This commentary originally aired November 11, 2015.)
 
 

The Story behind the Navy Hymn: In Honor of Veterans Day 2017
Read all the stanzas of “Eternal Father Strong to Save” and listen to the hymn performed by the Navy Sea Chanters by clicking on the links below. And especially today, please pray for our nation’s veterans.

Resources

Description of the Navy hymn “Eternal Father Strong to Save”
website

“Eternal Father Strong to Save”
Sung by the U.S. Navy Band’s Sea Chanters

An Act of Deception, and the Anti Christian Union has a party over the death of a baby ( sad )

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BreakPoint: Prayer Shaming and the Church Shooting Choosing Policy over God

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Prayer, it seems, is no longer a politically acceptable response to tragedy. Instead, we’re being told to put our trust in something else.

As I record this, just days after the horrific massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a massacre which claimed 26 lives and wounded 20 others, authorities continue to piece together the motives of the young male who perpetrated this act of terror. Apparently, it was a revenge shooting at the church his mother-in-law attended, though she was not there on that Sunday morning.

The victims ranged in age from a baby in utero to 77 years, and included more than one family that lost multiple members and the pastor’s 14 year-old daughter. Most of the victims were, according to reports, children.

As happens at every mass shooting, there are those committed to superimposing their own narratives on the tragic events. In fact, some, as happens at every mass shooting, have found a way to even implicate Christians.

This time that way is what Emma Green of the Atlantic Monthly dubbed, after the San Bernadino shooting, “prayer shaming.” This refers to comments in both social and conventional media that criticize those who say that their thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

The epitome of “prayer shaming” was a front page story in the New York Daily News after the San Bernadino shooting, which read “God Isn’t Fixing This,” and called talk of prayer “meaningless platitudes.” As Rod Dreher rightly commented then, these kinds of statements “reveal a total lack of understanding of what religious people believe, and why.”

They also reveal the extent to which, as my “BreakPoint This Week” co-host Ed Stetzer often has put it, Christians have lost “home-field advantage” that we may have had in the culture.

Until last week, saying that you were praying for someone was seen an act of kindness, even if the other person didn’t believe in the efficacy of prayer. For example, the late atheist Christopher Hitchens thanked the people who were praying for him after he was diagnosed with the cancer that would ultimately take his life, and Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” criticized British theaters for refusing to run a Church of England ad about the Lord’s Prayer. He said, “If anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended.”

While I would never call prayer “trivial,” I can’t help but notice how two of the leading public atheists of recent memory were more gracious about prayer than many American activists who want us to “do something.”

Of course, what they assume in the process is that 1) we know what that “something to do” is, and 2), that this “something” will actually solve the problem.

And it’s precisely here that the technocratic worldview of many activists and critics is revealed for what it is. Their faith, while not in prayer, is in something else. Namely, that all human problems and challenges, such as climate change, gun violence, and even terrorism, are problems that can be solved if only we apply the right techniques, which these days are almost always political steps: i.e., passing the right laws or public policies.

In this worldview, the world and all of its complexities can be reduced to mathematical models, and can thus be controlled by our best ideas and efforts. All of our problems, the logic continues, can be, if not eliminated, at least ameliorated.

But it’s a worldview that consistently fails. In the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008, Wall Street honestly believed it had mathematically solved the problem of risk. But it hadn’t. And there’s no reason to believe that the “something” the critics of prayer are advocating will reduce, much less stop, the kind of carnage we continue to see across our nation.

As the psalmist put it, nations continue to rage and people continue to plot in vain, but it’s the Lord alone, that can “make us dwell in safety.” So Christian, keep praying.

 

 

Prayer Shaming and the Church Shooting: Choosing Policy over God

Join with the Body of Christ as we continue to pray for individuals and families, for our nation and our world. We place our trust in God, and put into practice what the psalmist wrote when he entreated the Lord, “Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry!” Psalm 88:2

Resources

Prayer Shaming: The View From Jesusland

  • Rod Dreher | The American Conservative | December 3, 2015
The Power of Prayer: And the Prayer of Power

  • R. A. Torrey | Zondervan Publishing Company
The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer

  • Andrew Murray | Bethany House Publishers

Texas Church Tragedy

Listen to a spiritual thought.