One misstep in today's punishment driven culture can mean you are cancelled for life.
Throwing a baseball, a bottle or even a rally-cap at a professional athlete is grounds for ejection from the stadium. This is obvious to all. The safety of everyone at sporting events, whether fans or players, is paramount. An appropriate response is demanded. Appropriate is the key word.
I'll admit I am not privy to the specifics of this situation, so my remarks are going to be general. The “banned for life” movement is strong in America, and it's driven by an all-to-familiar and vindictive cancel culture.
Banned for life? For throwing a baseball at someone?
The punishment for second degree murder is often significantly less lengthy (though I'm not suggesting missing a lifetime of baseball games is in any way the same as going to prison). In fact, NJ.com reported Sunday the fan was not even arrested, though this may change after the facts are gathered. Be that as it may, throwing a baseball that caused no injury resulted in a life sentence by Major League Baseball without the possibility of parole.
A NATION DEVOID OF THE SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS
ESPN reports, “Verdugo said he tossed the ball into the stands to a young Red Sox fan but that a Yankees fan intercepted it and threw it back onto the field, hitting the outfielder.”
As a Chicago Cubs fan, I've witnessed many homerun balls hit by the visiting team launched back from the bleachers onto the field. This is a long-standing tradition, one that is good for the sport. I've often seen the air-mailed baseballs soar past players and I've often wondered if any of them have ever been hit. Granted, the velocity of a ball by the time it lands near the infield would be minimal.
Would this be cause for a lifetime ban? Of course not. Is it possible the situation with Alex Verdugo was more deliberate and egregious? Yes. But, again, much greater crimes carry much shorter sentences. Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the punishment must fit the crime, and some might argue this situation barely even qualifies as a crime, if it does at all.
Reports of people being banned for life from theme parks and cruise ships for some extremely minor offenses are out there, and while I don't diminish the need to hold people acc0untable, there must be a mechanism for penance and forgiveness. Sadly, we are living in a nation that is woefully lacking in the value of forgiveness. Instead, punishment, control, shame and judgment have become the norm in our society.
BANNED FOR LIFE
According to CBS Sports writer Matt Snyder, Justice was served — the fan was banned from Yankee Stadium and the other 29 ballparks for life, an MLB spokesperson told NJ.com's Brendan Kuty on Sunday.
Was justice truly served with a lifetime ban?
Except for the most extreme cases, the punitive term “banned for life” should disappear from our culture's verbiage. Social media platforms also use similar terminology when deleting accounts. Often it's unclear why people were banned as specifics are rarely shared. Even the offenders are often in the dark as to why they have punished and are given no path for restoration.
President Donald Trump was famously banned for life from Twitter. It's so preposterous and inconceivable that our nation's highest-ranking official could be muzzled.
“The way our policies work, when you’re removed from the platform, you’re removed from the platform whether you are a commentator, a CFO or you are a former or public official,” he said.
Vengeance instead of common sense, love and forgiveness is leading the charge today, and our nation is growing darker and more sinister by the hour.
Both President Trump and the culprit who foolishly threw the baseball are banned forever. Paul Hodgkins will serve eight months (or less) for joining a group of rioters who assembled at the front of the Senate chamber. His intention was to obstruct the certification of the 2020 Presidential election.
In fact, in another baseball related story, the person (or people) responsible for shooting four people outside a Washington Nationals game the other day may very well receive sentences (should they be found and convicted) well short of a lifetime.
A PATH OF RESTORATION
No matter the violation, a path of restoration must always be extended, whether it's by Major League Baseball, Facebook, theme parks or cruise ship companies. Simply slamming down the gavel and erasing someone without any opportunity for rehabilitation is cruel.
If you presume I'm dismissing wrong and hurtful actions, I'm not. Neither am I suggesting we look the other way and allow all sorts of inappropriate behavior. I'm saying there must be communication with the offender, an appropriate time-out or other measure to ensure people's safety and then a clear path of restoration.
A life-time ban is most situations is ludicrous, heartless and fully unnecessary.
Remember, people who have been convicted of all sorts of heinous crimes including drunk driving, manslaughter, bank robbery and other illegal actions are offered an appropriate sentence usually with the possibility of parole. Their ban is not of the lifetime variety. Yet, throw a baseball at someone or break some rules online or elsewhere and the judgment is harsh, final and permanent.
Again, I'm not suggesting that an inability to post memes to social media or to hang out in the bleachers to cheer the Cubs on to another World Series title is in any way similar to being incarcerated. I'm simply making the point that greater crimes have a path of restoration built into the sentence. Today's “banned for life” movement does not. When culture cancels you, it's permanent.
The thought of being banned from seeing Major League baseball games with my children breaks my heart. One mistake, no matter how intentional it may be, should not qualify someone for permanent cancellation. Yet, that's what we are seeing today. No love. No forgiveness. No path of restoration. No acceptance of apologies. No hope.
The result is a fear-based culture that cancels all who don't comply to the letter of the law. This alone is resulting in a scary, judgmental and vengeful America that looks nothing like it did a couple decades ago.
Why are so many Believers trading God's justice for mob justice?
Don Carson explains, “To preach moral duty without the underlying power of the gospel is moralism that is both pathetic and powerless.”
It seems many Christians have fully swapped out morality rule books, trading the Bible for an ever-changing social justice manual. One was written by the very hand of God and will never be erased, edited or discredited. The other? The loudest and most influential voices win the right to determine what the societal rules of the day are. Of course, the rules change according to whatever their current agenda is, and most aren't privy to these rules until they are cancelled, or worse.
Of course, most people of God wouldn't admit to shelving the Word of God in favor of the word of the mob. Instead, they have been known to attempt an unholy morphing of the two manuscripts while most often favoring social justice issues. Biblical truths are forced to fit within manmade definitions of what is right and fair.
The truth is biblical justice and social justice are often, though not always, mutually exclusive. They are at odds.
“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.” (Exodus 23:2–3, NLT)
The plumbline of morality can never be the crowd. This is the clearest way to express the concern with today's social justice movement. Does it mean the crowd is always wrong? No. Does it mean the crowd is imperfect in its ability to discern? Yes. For Christians the litmus test of morality does not come from our ability to gauge unfairness or improprieties. The test is Scripture. We don't need a social justice movement that's tainted by the agendas, whims, politics and emotional reactions of the squeakiest wheels. We need a movement of God's justice on the Earth as he is the only perfect judge. His justice is never wrong.
There are many distinctions between social justice and biblical justice. Here are just a few.
GOD JUDGES FAIRLY
Social justice promotes an often twisted version of fairness, demanding individuals, entire people groups or segments of society are punished, minimized or discredited for the sake of those the mob values. The agenda becomes the standard of fairness, though it's laughable to even consider using the word.
For Believers the standard is radically and entirely different than the one social justice advocates have adopted. The reality is that the fairness of God can be both comforting and terrifying.
Those who have been wronged and who are putting their full trust in God can rest knowing God is their advocate.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19–21, ESV)
God's fairness should also strike us with fear. Those who promote social justice would do well to understand that outside of Christ we are all wretched, wicked and soaked in sin. Advocating for the disenfranchised without revealing they are literally living under the wrath of God will bring only the most temporary of relief. If it's fairness we are talking about, we need to grasp the reality that we all deserve the never-ending, horrifying, maddening and tormenting fires of Hell. This is fair and right judgment.
However, while the bad news of social justice cancels and defames any and all who have failed to support their cause or measure up to their humanistic standard, the good news of the Gospel reveals the wonder of God's love. God knew we could never measure up to the standard of holiness necessary to live with him forever. His passion for us (unlike the disdain seen in cancel culture) resulted in the greatest act of love the world has even known. Jesus died so we could live.
FORGIVENESS VERSUS RETRIBUTION
The spirit behind many social justice movements is one of punishment. The Spirit of God yearns to forgive all. The Bible tells us that God wants no man to perish. Social justice is so broken and limited in its ability to truly promote a societal fix that punishment and promotion becomes the only system available to them. Punish the oppressors and resisters as they promote the cause of the oppressed.
In today's social justice driven cancel culture the concept of forgiveness is laughable. I am so grieved at the amount of vitriol that is vomited across social media today. People are fueled by pure hatred and vengeance against those who stand in their way. I've seen it on both sides of the political aisle. In fact, it's often professing Christians exposing their fangs preparing to devour any who oppose their earthly mission.
What would happen if, instead of a “defund the police” social justice movement we saw masses of people holding signs that proclaimed “forgive the police?”
In fact, what if we saw pro-lifers declaring, “I forgive the abortionists” as they prayed outside of the clinics?
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” (Luke 23:34, ESV)
This humble and loving heart posture wouldn't mean we can't still contend for police reform or the ending of abortion. But it does flip the script by driving the conversation from a place of humility and deep love for the offenders.
Instead of punitive demands for people to make amends (or to be cancelled permanently), true love and true justice would instead call people to repentance. With tears in our eyes and compassion in our hearts we must look at the oppressors and call them into God's Kingdom. They are not people to be crushed and despised, but rather they are potential future brothers and sisters.
God makes it clear that we must love our enemies, not cancel them. We pray for them, contend for their souls and reveal the passion God has for them.
When penance takes the place of repentance we put people into an impossible situation. While it feels good for social justice mobs to exert control and enforce punishment, it's a carnal, demonic emotional rush that only brings destruction.
Further, as we are inviting people into glorious repentance and into a new life in Jesus, we must search our own hearts. As we fight for true justice it's critical that we walk in humility, love and repentance ourselves. Social justice is often driven by pride and puffed out chests. God's justice results in us hitting our knees and humbly advocating for those who so desperately need God.
EARTH ISN'T OUR HOME
It's disturbing how much energy some churches are giving to social justice initiatives to the exclusion of preparing people for what happens after we leave the earth. To devote so much effort to what amounts to a blip, a vapor, a split second in time compared to an impending eternity makes little sense. No sense. Campaigning for some sort of fairness on the earth is ultimately meaningless if those on the receiving end are not also prepared for life after death.
Of course, we see this carnality play out in many additional ways. It's not exclusive to the focus of social justice. Many Christians are intent on indulging on temporal selfish pleasures while having little thought of the price they are paying eternally.
Is the Gospel being preached? Is Heaven and Hell on the forefront of conversations? We can give our lives attempting to help others naturally while failing miserably in preparing them spiritually. Evangelism is the tool God has given us to reach the world. Social justice is an imperfect and possibly dangerous substitute, especially when utilized outside of the framework of Scripture.
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”” (John 18:36, ESV)
THERE IS A PLACE FOR GODLY JUSTICE MOVEMENTS
In no way am I attempting to argue that we should sit on our hands with muzzles on our mouths. No, we shouldn't remain silent when people are wrongfully attacked, minimized and oppressed. We should go to battle as agents of the Lord and push back the forces of darkness.
Wickedness is rampant in the earth and God is looking for fearless warriors to confront the evils of abortion, sex trafficking, racial injustice and other ills.
I didn't cover all I could in regard to the dangers of wrongfully applied social justice movements and I'll not even begin to cover all of the opportunities for biblical justice in our nation. The point I'm attempting to make is that we must address issues in society with truth, the right motive and with the loving, compassionate heart of God.
We cannot use division and battles between cultural groups to bring healing and justice to our nation. The Bible demands that we don't oppress each other and also that we refuse to scheme against each other. We can see this world impacted if we refuse to demonize the oppressors and if we respond to sociological crisis with the love of Jesus.
“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.” (Zechariah 7:9–10, NLT)
Photo credit: “Moral Monday March & Interfaith Social Justice Rally” by twbuckner is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Originally published by The Stream.
The spirit behind cancel culture is truly wicked, but reform is still possible — and mandatory if America is to survive.
Bloodthirsty mobs are bent on destruction of anyone and anything that violates their worldview. Cancel culture is their weapon of choice, but mark my words, the weapons will only become more deadly unless we deal with the madness.
Read the following passage of Scripture carefully:
“…they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.” (Luke 23:21–25, ESV)
The mob was relentless. The authorities of the day gave them what they demanded. A murderer won the popularity contest. Jesus was slaughtered. Cancel culture.
The stark contrast, however, was that Jesus was truly innocent. This should send shivers down our spine. As the end continues to draw nearer those who which to exterminate (cancel) those they disagree with will do so regardless of evidence of guilt. If they don’t like the way we tie our shoes, it will be enough to validate an overt mission of destruction, at least in the mob’s eyes.
The spirit behind deadly riots and cancel culture is the same. Riots are physical, visible, violent and fueled by rage against any and all who oppose their advance through city streets. Cancel culture is invisible, psychological, sociological yet also fueled by white-hot rage against those they hate.
Reformation is needed before the fabric of our nation is shredded beyond repair.
NINE CRUCIAL CHANGES THAT MUST COME TO CANCEL CULTURE
LISTEN TO THE ACCUSED
In today’s instant society, it takes mere minutes for accusations against people of influence to send stocks diving, to cost jobs and to destroy families. A single tweet is all it takes to initiate the rapid process of national judgment.
They aren’t only unfairly judged as guilty until proven innocent. They are often guilty even when proven innocent. Hatred needs no proof of indiscretion in order to become weaponized.
In most every case, the punishment cancel culture inflicts doesn't match the crime. That should be expected as cancel culture is energized by punishment, not fairness.
It’s imperative for it to become normal and accepted protocol to listen to the accused. Allow them to authentically defend their position, to admit a mistake or to seek clarity from their accusers. Before someone’s entire career, family and life are destroyed because of the aggressive intent of a few, is it not fair to entertain their explanation? Shouldn’t we allow for due process to play out? Is it not prudent to avoid jumping to conclusions? When hatred is fueling a movement, logic like this doesn’t move their hearts. This is why we must see good American people rise up and demand that the accused are provided a sufficient opportunity to share their hearts and explain their positions before the spirit of death is unleashed on them.
Anger, rage, hatred and aggression towards targets of cancel culture are extremely overpowering emotions. A more powerful force is forgiveness.
In recent years we have witnessed tragic shifts in our culture that celebrate destruction of people. We are living in a punitive society that seeks to resolve our nation’s ills by eliminating all who err, and all who are deemed guilty by association. Don’t only prosecute the bad cops, defund the entire police force.
What if we forgave instead? To forgive doesn’t mean we affirm bad behavior. It means we love the person who has failed and we work hard to see that they are blessed in the midst of their crisis, no matter how egregious their crime may have been.
There are few moments more powerful, and rare, then weeping mamas in a courtroom who look the killer of her children in the eye and say, “I forgive you.” We have all sinned, and contrary to popular belief, all sin is absolutely vile. Whether it’s a white lie, lust, intoxication or murder, our wickedness is sure. This is why God’s offer of forgiveness via the cross and the resurrection is more remarkable than can ever be expressed. Outside of the forgiveness of Jesus, we are all deserving of Hell.
OFFER A PATH OF REDEMPTION
Today’s cancel culture is drunk on bulldozing a path of destruction. A spirit of redemption fights for the accused, not against the accused. The spirit of destruction wages war against the spirit of redemption, and this is the spiritual battle that is being played out every day.
“…The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:9–10, ESV)
Understand, the thief, Satan, has all the evidence he needs to convince any and all of our guilt. In fact, he is absolutely right that we all deserve death and destruction. No one is righteous, and the penalty for that is delivery into the very hands of the devil. Thankfully there is an omnipotent God who loves us enough to offer a path of redemption. No matter what we have done, whether it’s stealing from a candy store, cheating on our taxes or cold-blooded murder, we can be redeemed. The power of love is incredible.
If someone truly fails and cancel culture brings it to light, providing a path of redemption is non-negotiable.
REJECT UNFOUNDED OPINIONS ABOUT MOTIVE
Refuse to entertain invented deductions about someone or something in our culture. We are watching Muppets, cartoons, classic movies and even Dr. Seuss cancelled right before our eyes. The latest victim? Pepe Le Pew:
New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote a piece headlined, “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias.” The column noted that some of the first cartoon characters Blow remembers seeing while young are Pepe Le Pew, who “normalized rape culture,” and Speedy Gonzales, whose friends “helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans.”
Simply because one person unilaterally determined the motive behind Pepe Le Pew’s mannerisms to be nefarious, this beloved character was removed from the upcoming Space Jam 2 movie with Lebron James.
It’s time that we refuse to accept outlandish accusations that have no merit.
QUESTION THE RULE BOOK
“Fast forward to a few days ago when I watched a preview clip circulating the internet of the new Grand Theft Auto game. The video showed a sequence played in “first person view”, where you can actually invite a prostitute into your car, select the amount of money you wish to offer for her services and then watch the chosen acts performed. Not only that, once you have been sexually satisfied, you can kick her out of the car, stab her with a hatchet and run her over.”
This was from a 2014 article by Callen Price. Somebody please tell me how an innocent Looney Tune character like Pepe Le Pew is cancelled but Grand Theft Auto is not. This is nonsensical madness at its best. Paying for a prostitute’s services and then brutally murdering her after using her is acceptable? Who is writing the cancel culture rule book? Who is deciding what is moral and what is not?
We live in a culture that is drowning in pornography, drug use, violence, riots and all sorts of evil, yet we are cancelling people who suggest election fraud took place. Movies are filled with nudity, vulgar language and all sorts of immorality, yet we are destroying comedians who use the age old humor of stereotyping in their acts. Future generations are going to look back on America and think we are all nuts. It’s time to question the rule book. Greater sins are being ignored in favor of the chance to devour those who hold differing viewpoints.
STOP SURRENDERING TO THE MOB
We need some brave, level-headed people to stand up to the mob. When they are screaming, “Crucify! Crucify!” we should understand that something unholy is driving their madness.
All it takes is a mere suggestion that someone is out of line and companies are quick to destroy. Gina Carano was fired by Disney from her role in The Mandalorian simply because she tweeted something controversial. That’s all it took. Disney cowered to the mob.
Today people are walking on eggshells and living in fear of losing everything because of their beliefs or their failures of many years ago. When today’s cancel culture smells blood in the water, they rush to devour. We need to stop listening to the mob and start embracing the principles dealt with in this article. Love and forgiveness are culture-altering forces that we need today more than ever.
LOVE PEOPLE MORE THAN IDEOLOGIES
We are living in a throw-away generation where people easily dispose of others when they get in the way. Nothing exemplifies this more than the lengths people will go to ensure their freedom isn’t compromised by an unwanted baby. Abortion is evidence of ideologies and personal pursuits being dramatically more valuable than other people. Cancel culture is driven by this same spirit. Destroy people and protect ideologies. This hatred is destroying our nation. The only hope is a revelation of the love of Jesus. That’s it.
DEFEND THE RIGHT TO DIFFER
I’m shocked and dismayed that I have to write this in our once great and free nation. We should be celebrating the right to freely speak and for others to do the same. We may radically disagree with someone, and even believe their positions to be inhumane and immoral, yet their beliefs are their own. They speech is protected. I vehemently oppose the scourge of abortion, but I support the right for others to freely voice their support of the atrocity. We should be free to tweet and post opinions about anything from abortion to the election to vaccinations to pandemics to politics to religion to human sexuality to absolutely anything that isn’t illegal without cancel culture visiting our doorsteps.
The bottom line is that our nation needs revival. Throughout this article I’m dealing with remedies that can only come when a culture is invaded with the love and power of Jesus. Pray for a move of God to overcome America. If it doesn’t happen, America itself will soon be cancelled.Originally published by The Stream.
Trump, right, wrong and a deeply divided nation
As Christians we have a sober responsibility to expose darkness, promote righteousness, preach truth and bring glory to God. Yes, when handled well, shining the light of truth on the darkness in our nation can bring positive results that will raise the water level of godliness. However, when handled wrongly it can bring death.
A bite from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil most certainly will empower one with data that can be used against their opponents. The prideful indignation feels pure and righteous as they are, after all, promoting what is good and true. What they fail to understand is that fruit can bring nothing but destruction. It kills.
If your emotional health is dependent on you being right and others acknowledging that you are right, you will not last. You will not endure. As our end-time mission intensifies, we will have every opportunity to be offended, or to advance with our beliefs and ideologies in such a way that offense of others is all that results. You may be right about whatever you are attempting to communicate, but your tainted heart infects the hearers with the same bitter fruit.
IT’S NOT A MATTER OF RIGHT VERSUS WRONG
As I said, as end-time Believers, we do have a mandate to expose wickedness, to sound alarms and to do all we can to rescue the perishing. Sadly, too often this noble pursuit becomes compromised when the heart of the matter (whatever our cause may be) becomes more important than the heart of people.
The news media, for example, provides an endless source of information that is fueled by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The intent of most in the media is not to nurture, encourage and bless those who are watching, listening and reading. As we well know, fake news is alive and well as biased people attempt to manipulate the national narrative. The media isn’t in existence for our benefit, it seems, but for theirs.
This same spirit has infiltrated many in the church. Flip on over to Facebook and try to stomach a barrage of finger pointing and accusations against any and all who disagree with their views, especially when it comes to Donald Trump, masks and other recent hot topics.
As Christians, we have a choice, We can live off of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and be right about whatever battle we are fighting. Or, we can live from the tree of life where we still advocate for truth, but we do it from a heart of love and with a strong desire to bless others.
You see, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil masterfully pumps out the fruit of offense. It manifests often in blaming others for our ills.
I’m right, you are wrong!
You hurt me!
My pastor won’t affirm my ministry!
That politician is destroying America!
Those people are hateful!
This results in living as victims, professing that we are hindered because of the actions of another. The accusatory shout is, “You are ruining my life!” instead of blessing those who curse us and forgiving those who have offended us.
I’m dismayed by Christians who refuse to pray for President Biden, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Kamal Harris or other Democrats. Instead, they seek to call them out, to ridicule them, to shame them and to blame them. The fruit they are eating results in them unable to see them as future children of God, brothers and sisters in the Lord, and people who God deeply loves. No, instead they want to snipe all who threaten their concept of righteous American political viewpoints.
Take a few moments and peruse various news outlets. Take note of how many articles, quotes and opinions include blaming others for whatever problems they are experiencing. You’ll be stunned. Or, maybe not. Then, take what you have discovered and ask yourself whether you employ the same tactics in your own life.
Wives do it to husbands, and husbands to wives. Employees do it to employers and vice versa. Conservatives do it to liberals. The left does it to the right. Students do it to teachers. Church members to it to pastors. Blame, it seems, has infected our entire society. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is our nation’s buffet.
In this world of blinded eyes, dull ears and hardened hearts, the life of God isn’t imparted according to formulas, facts and carefully researched data, but rather by dynamic, life-giving relationships. We can and should deal directly with problematic issues while dealing in a life-giving, honoring manner with people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ.
A person living in the tree of life loves and serves in the spirit of Truth (Jesus) while those living in the tree of knowledge of good and evil are fueled by facts. If we become enraged by situations in our lives and then seek to accuse and blame others for our troubles, we can know we have been poisoned by desirable fruit from a deadly tree.
I don’t question people’s desire to stand for truth by supporting Donald Trump. Their determination to expose darkness and any fraud and corruption is good. Unfortunately, few have discovered how to do so without blaming and accusing and with a heart of love. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the quickest route to gathering facts and winning debates while losing the heart of God in the process.
THE DESIRE FOR GODLINESS
Much of the venom from Christians today is a result of their strong opinions about the election. Sadly, too many have not figured out how to stand for truth while also being life-giving in the process. Their heads are raised and fangs out when they come across anyone who isn’t in perfect alignment with their perspective on the outcome of the election.
Interestingly, most every time their aggressive retort comes in the form of facts, videos, conspiracy theories, interviews, prophecies and other supposed evidences. The goal is to shame their opponent with facts instead of honoring them as children of God.
Genesis 3:4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Interestingly, Satan appealed to Eve's desire for godliness, but, while it resulted in knowledge, it was devoid of life. A form of godliness but devoid of power. Eve was pursuing godly knowledge! This is such a powerful truth that can easily be missed. The problem was that God knew mankind would not know how to handle the information with humility, love and surrender.
Their recognition of their own nakedness was correct, but it was different than the revelation that God wanted for them. They were suddenly ashamed instead of free.
He wanted them to be childlike, but now they didn't have that capacity.
When they ate of the tree, which provided absolutely accurate knowledge, they became servants to it.
This same poison has infected much of the church, and certainly most all of secular society. A desire for “rightness” has resulted in division, hatred, anger, blame and shame.
THE BLAME GAME
Many Christians live in the tree of knowledge of good and evil their entire lives.
John 5:39 “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Remember, we should be seeking out truth, not facts. We should be blessing, not blaming. Adam was compromised immediately upon eating the fruit.
Genesis 3:11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Blame! Can you see it?
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil always causes us to point at somebody and say “I can’t, because they didn’t,” but living from the fruit on the tree of life causes us to proclaim, “I can, no matter what they do.”
This is a prime reason why I personally don’t get spun out because Joe Biden is our President. We as the church can advance the Kingdom of God no matter what policies a secular politician advances.
I’m not naïve either. I know it’s important to engage the secular, political system as light bearers. We should not stay silent. But, we shouldn’t be dismayed either. We engage, we love, we prophesy, we proclaim, we expose and we advance, but from a life-giving perspective. I absolutely can see Joe Biden and the rest as on-fire worshipers of Jesus! He doesn’t threaten me, we as the church threaten him with prophetic decrees of salvation, love and abundant life!
Someone called me a liberal hiding behind a pulpit because of my positive view about the election. I had to laugh. If anything, I’m not a liberal, BUT if my love for our new administration results in accusations of being a liberal, so be it!
Do you see the difference between being driven by truth instead of facts? The truth sets people free while facts have the power to imprison.
Jesus told us the truth must be written on our hearts, not our brains!
John 8:30-32 (NKJV) 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Proverbs 3:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
Facts have the power to divide, but truth delivered in love, with mercy, as they are written on our own heart, will result in favor with man! It's a powerful contrast!
The tree of knowledge of good and evil just grows and grows as we attempt to figure out right versus wrong. Again, remember, we have a duty as Believers to expose the darkness, but being fueled by facts in order to defeat another with arguments and accusations only results in the darkness growing more impenetrable.
The blame game must come to an end. If it doesn’t, the consequences are dire.
Matthew 24:9-13 (KJV) 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Will you endure to the end? Will you be blameless? Will you refuse to complain and dispute?
Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV) 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
I feel impressed to invite many of you who are reading this to consider repenting for the way you have responded to Joe Biden’s election to President of the United States. Then, pray a heartfelt prayer for him, his family, his Vice President and the rest of the liberal left. Don’t pray a haughty prayer of rebuke. Don’t stop short by only praying for his salvation. Don’t pray manipulatively (God won’t hear you). But, pray something like this:
Father, I thank you for the next four years in our nation. I trust you to be the Lord and leader as we see your Kingdom advanced in unprecedented fashion. I ask that you would powerfully and mightily bless President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the rest of his team. I ask that you would visit him, speak to him and draw him close to you. Give him great wisdom to lead our nation. Touch his heart with your fiery love and transform him more and more each day. I pray the more he sees you, the more his leadership is modeled after the life of Jesus. I’m believing we will see this manifest in the years to come. I thank you for his life and I honor him as your established leader for this time.
This teaching has become one of my most requested. I’d like to offer the eBook, audio teaching and sermon notes for free when subscribing at www.burton.tv/free.
The phenomenon of social abuse is destroying America in the name of progress.Canceled. Shamed. Bullied. Rejected. Outed. Hated. Destroyed. The reports of cancelled, socially abused people are nearly non-stop in the news day after day. Educators suspended, athletes humiliated, actors fired, television shows cancelled, statues toppled, history rewritten. This is the fruit of today's wicked, unrelenting cancel culture. Shaming, bullying and abusing those who aren't promoting certain promoted narratives is a primary offensive weapon of ruthless outrage mobs. President Obama, speaking on the socially abusive cancel culture said, “…the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people… You see how woke I was, I called you out. That's not activism. That's not bringing about change.” When your ideologies, questions and even your silence are threatening to those who are vigorously advancing their cause, whatever it may be, social abuse becomes an option. The penance they demand is determined not by an absolving priest but by a self-appointed jury seeking your destruction. The outrage mob rises up en force against the detractors and nothing short of renunciation of their values or destruction of their character will do. In America's cancel culture, blood-lust drives self-appointed moral revolutionaries to strip you of your dignity and parade you naked across social media.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Genesis 9:22 (ESV)A curse was the result of this shaming of Noah (which pales in comparison to today's hateful exposing). We have a choice as a nation. Cover in love and be blessed or report another's nakedness to the world and be cursed.
23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. Genesis 9:23 (ESV)Hateful uncovering and blacklisting is an ironic tactic people utilize against those they believe to be, well, hateful. It's the white-collar equivalent of the outrage mobs in the streets, rioters who are destroying businesses and lives with firebombs and violence in the name of eventual peace. They are attempting to drive out hate with hate, and not only will that never work, but it exposes their hypocrisy.
THE FUTILITY OF TAKING A KNEEThe socially abusive cancel culture has stricken another victim, future Hall of Famer, NFL quarterback Drew Brees. Drew heroically maintained his stand (a stand that millions of Americans applaud) that kneeling during the National Anthem was profoundly inappropriate. Call in the outrage mob. Skip Bayless tweeted, “Drew’s comments represented an elite, white insensitivity where you just live in your own world. It goes back to the question of whether he can do enough to be accepted as reformed.” So, one of the NFL's most authentic and truly good guys now has to be reformed because of a single, non-controversial statement that the majority of Americans hold to? After receiving death threats and hateful retorts, his wife Brittany relented and confessed,”We are the problem.” Skip Bayless also attacked actor Mark Wahlberg and said, “These racial incidents have been hiding in plain sight on Mark Wahlberg’s Wikipedia page since Wikipedia was born. Shannon (Sharpe) has always taught me that once you’re a racist, you’re a racist, and I’ll never quite trust you again.” Skip, I implore you to examine the absolute love and forgiveness of Jesus. A haunting past is the fuel for the social abuse movement in our nation. If our past seals our future, there is no hope, and Skip, you yourself are doomed. You have to ask (at risk of being socially abused) just what is the purpose of kneeling during the National Anthem? People defend the action by saying it has nothing to do with the flag. That's interesting, because the exact moment they chose to protest was when we are standing up for the flag. Not at halftime, not at the coin toss, not during player announcements (of course not), not when the game has finished (as praying Christian players do at the 50-yard-line). The protest is during our National Anthem. The protest is about our flag. They say it's to bring attention to racism and police brutality. I don't believe there's a single solitary soul in America that isn't aware of that endeavor. It's said that it's to promote change. I'd argue there are very few who would oppose the annihilation of racism and violence. Yes, it's true that change must come, and it's a rare few who would not agree with that statement. Thankfully, Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson said, “players might not kneel if they believe they are listened to when they speak about use of force by police and a variety of other social issues…” Players, we hear you. We really do. Divisive actions such as kneeling and shaming actually do great damage to the cause, and it crushes the spirit of our nation. It should be obvious that we can highly value our black brothers and sisters and the change we are all pursuing and also highly honor our veterans and the flag of our great nation. It's not either/or, it's both/and.
SOCIAL ABUSE AND CANCEL CULTURE IS RAMPING UPThe cancel culture protagonists are relentlessly attacking any and all who don't rally around narratives that have been determined by a few to be absolute truth. The classic television show COPS was cancelled. Elmer Fudd turned in his gun. Gone With The Wind was removed by HBO Max. Children's show Paw Patrol apparently spews pro-police propaganda. (Not propaganda, folks. It's pure, overt pro-police appreciation. Nearly every single one of America's police officers are heroes.) Wichita State University President Jay Golden cancelled an Ivanka Trump speech after a squeaky-wheeled outrage mob of 500 demanded she not be allowed to speak. Ben Shapiro has regularly experienced the same discrimination at college campuses. Gonzaga University has cancelled his appearance twice. Grand Canyon University cancelled Ben too as have Cal State Los Angeles and Middlebury College. Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA was suspended from his job for a shocking violation: he required his students to take their finals. A demand that is shockingly similar to segregation of old was forced upon him. Due to the crisis surrounding the murder of George Floyd, an outrage mob called for black students alone to be exempt from the test. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. I can't believe I'm going to write this next one. UCLA suspended Gordon Klein for three weeks because of this. The New York Post reports, “Klein — whom students slammed as “racist” and “dismissive” — was also placed under police protection at his Malibu home after receiving threats from critics…” The Flash actor Hartley Sawyer was fired after some of his old tweets were discovered. While he apologized, that wasn't enough for today's hyper-sensitive and hypocritical outrage mob (who doesn't have some sort of a past?). Fired. Terminated. Destroyed. Success.
GRACE TO GROWIf Skip Bayless has his way, no racist will ever be able to repent, apologize and change. They might as well just remain diseased by hatred for the rest of their lives. It would seem that others are equally hopeless, never able to learn from mistakes, always paying for their deeds and tweets and philosophies. It doesn't matter if they were naive children or if years of lessons leading to maturity have passed. No forgiveness, no grace to grow. A punitive response is the only response the outrage mob has to offer. Hartley Sawyer offered this heartfelt apology, “My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now.” Not enough it seems. Let the outrage continue. Vigilante justice reigns supreme. FOX News political commentator Lisa Boothe tweeted, “I feel like we are all one tweet away from getting fired these days.” That's the terror cancel culture wants us all to carry. The cancel culture elite make the rules and we must tremble in fear at their great power.
THANKFULLY WE HAVE SOME COMPETING VOICESThe Federalist publisher Ben Domenech on Wednesday addressed the issue of the so-called cancel culture hitting the media. “Within the industry, they're able to weaponize social media to essentially create these rage mobs and drive talented people from their positions.” Comedian Kevin Hart has had enough of the nonsense too. “We can’t be so persistent with the search to find and destroy. Although some things are warranted and I understand, it’s just us as people have got to be smart enough to go … you know what, whatever has happened, has happened, but people deserve a chance to move on,” he said. “Life isn’t over because people say it is, and that’s what’s been happening as of late. It’s like people determine when your end button is pushed, but that’s not how it works. We need to lose that attitude and feeling and let people grow.” In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Bill Maher said the irony of cancel culture is “that the people who hate bullying are always bullying.” “All they care about is getting a scalp on the wall,” he continued. “They don't care if you're really a racist, which you're not. They don't care about a million things. That's what they care about, and they always want to find the worst version of what any person is.” And finally, Demi Lovato, who admits to being cancelled many times, said that she would like to switch out cancel culture for something called “forgiveness culture.” This, she said, would involve a person apologizing for what they might have done so they can be a good role model for others. I agree. Maybe agree to disagree culture would be healthy too. First published by The Stream.
#metoo proponents need a fresh understanding of what love and forgiveness really look like.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34 (ESV)
I’m a holiness preacher. I am feverish in my pursuit of revival that will be marked by purity in the church and mass, glorious repentance in the nation. As is true with many of today’s prophetic messengers, there’s an urgency in my spirit that can’t be shaken. We must see a move of God that both initiates and is a response to tears and mourning over the state of the church and the debauchery of our nation.
The egregious moral condition of America and the entire world is sickening beyond description. Recent news reveals the grotesque and depraved state of our culture.
For example, an abortion doctor recently boasted about her method of murder that ensures baby’s cries can’t be heard:
On Sunday, Leah Torres, a Utah abortionist who is active on Twitter, responded with gruesome detail to someone criticizing her work.
When someone asked Torres if she hears the screams of the babies who she aborts, she replied:
You know fetuses can’t scream, right? I transect the cord 1st so there’s really no opportunity, if they’re even far enough along to have a larynx.
I won’t apologize for performing medicine. I’m also a “uterus ripper outer,” if that’s how you’d like to describe hysterectomy. https://t.co/lng0W3ta5J
— Leah Torres, MD (@LeahNTorres) March 11, 2018
Just today, a suspected mail bomber in the Austin, Texas area died as one of his bombs detonated as police were closing in.
Of course, we have recent mass shootings and other heinous assaults that are becoming normal. Hollywood movies are becoming more vile. Pornography is rampant even in the church. The status of our nation is nothing less than depraved and desperate.
Jesus Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
Jesus died so we might have life. He died so others might have life. He died so our very dark sins would not keep us from a relationship with him. He died so other people’s sins, including the sins of murder, abuse and hatred, would not keep them from a relationship with him.
When I watch crime stories or hear news reports about the trials and convictions of murderers, rapists, abusers and others who have committed absolutely horrifying crimes against humanity, I find myself especially grieved when something specific happens. Time and again, I hear the family members and friends of those who were the target of the various crimes say, “I’ll never forgive him.” Those words wreck me. They are sealing their fate, a fate of darkness and despair that will never be escaped without true forgiveness.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
Those who have been abused or who have been affected by the hateful crimes of others most certainly are scarred deeply, beyond what words could ever describe. I’m a father of five and the husband of a wonderful, beautiful wife. If anything ever happened to them at the hands of another, I would experience a range of emotions that would rock me. Anger, despair, fear and other responses would be expected. But, as a Christian, forgiveness and love for the perpetrator must follow. I must shift from accuser to intercessor so both he and I are free, forgiven and healed.
Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. (Matthew 6:12)
A common violation of truth occurs when we presume our sins worthy of forgiveness while the sins of others must result in punishment. The true condition of our heart is revealed as we accuse.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s mandatory. Even though forgiveness is potent, we can’t always expect a perfect resolution to immediately follow. Restitution may not occur. Forgiveness isn’t about us, it’s about setting free those who have wounded us. Jesus could have screamed #metoo and demanded justice. Instead, he shouted #iforgive, as people continued to abuse and humiliate him by casting lots for his clothes. His forgiveness didn’t move them, but it moved Heaven and rocked the planet.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:51 (ESV)
Forgiveness will set the abuser in place for freedom should they accept it. Forgiveness will set the abused up for healing. True love does just that. It heals and sets free.
I am so blessed by the courage and true love exhibited by a true victim–Rachael Denhollander, who, instead of shouting #metoo declared #iforgive:
A former gymnast is offering forgiveness for the unspeakable crimes Larry Nassar has been convicted of – and she’s being recognized by the media for it.
“Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you. I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.” (From lifenews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2018/01/26/pro-life-christian-gymnast-rachael-denhollander-powerfully-forgives-usa-gymnastics-doc-larry-nassar-for-sexual-abuse/)
Don’t misunderstand me. We need the dark side of our culture exposed. The evil in Hollywood and throughout the fabric of our nation is so vile that most of us would be shocked if we saw it in fullness. Everything from sex trafficking to the porn industry to immorality in movies that fill our theaters to drugs, addiction, murder, abortion and so much more is destroying millions of people. That darkness must be exposed and those who are perpetuating it must be held accountable.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:11-14 (ESV)
Part of the response that the guilty must offer is legitimate repentance. If porn industry leaders, sex traffickers, Hollywood moguls who are abusing women (and men), drug traffickers and others would openly repent and surrender to Jesus, I think the earth would shift off its axis! This must be what drives our intercession, not retribution!
…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)
As we have been forgiven, we must forgive. We pay it forward. Our declaration must be #iforgive.
The heart of the #metoo movement is vengeance. It’s not driven by a heart of love and forgiveness, but on the contrary, one of anger and hatred. The question is simple: Will you forgive those who have abused you? Will you love them? Will you truly decree #iforgive just as you, as a child of God, have been forgiven?
Can you imagine the shockwaves that would have resulted if Harvey Weinstein’s victims looked him in the eyes and said, I forgive you. God loves you. I don’t want you to be tormented because of what you did to me. I don’t want you to experience shame. I want you to know the love of Jesus.
Wow! Imagine the Oscar speeches and news reports that would have followed! What if the #metoo movement truly was an #iforgive movement!
The spirit of vengeance and hatred that is rising up in our nation as a result of a very real darkness being uncovered is also deeply evil. Yes, we must stand firm for holiness. We absolutely must see corruption and crimes and assaults against innocent people exposed. Yes, for those who have committed crimes, there is a very real price to pay. Yes, those who are a danger to others must be apprehended. The darkness must be uncovered. There is no question about it.
What we must ask is, how will we respond to those who are exposed? Will we heap up hatred and vengeance upon them? Will we say, “I will never forgive you.” Will we shame them? Or, will we do as Rachael Denhollander did and extend forgiveness?
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)
Isaiah reveals a powerful strategy:
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:15-18 (NKJV)
God is ready to cleanse all who repent. For both those who abuse and those who refuse to forgive, God is revealing the blood on their hands. When we are clean, we most certainly can seek justice. We can trust God to expose the darkness and judge right versus wrong. We will rebuke oppressors and intercede for the weak, the fatherless, the widows—and I guarantee many of those who sexually abuse others are fatherless. The cry of our heart must be not only for our sins to be washed away, but for the sins of those who oppress us to be as white as snow. Our cry must not only be for justice but for mercy.
…In wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV)
Will we be #metoo accusers or #iforgive intercessors?
Our heart should follow the heart of God:
“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17 (NKJV)
For those who have been abused, my heart is broken for you. I am so sorry you had to endure that. My belief is your healing will rapidly come as you forgive. Forgiving doesn’t mean you minimize the pain or what has occurred. It simply means you make a decision to set the abuser free. You learn to love them and desire for them to know Jesus intimately. You let them know Heaven won’t be the same without them. You can’t fathom the thought of them being tormented forever in Hell. You become their greatest intercessor.
You simply do what Jesus did. Instead of focusing on himself by saying #metoo he focused on those who were killing him. He loved them in the midst of the assault. He said, #iforgive.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (ESV)
When we admit we are weak, then we will discover the Strength of the nations.
I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. Isaiah 13:11 (NIV)It’s an indictment on our nation when we puff up our chest in the face of our enemies and make trite, inaccurate statements about our supposed strength. American pride is finally coming back to haunt us. Our haughty, arrogant spirit has opened the gates of our nation to our enemies.
#orlandstrong #dallasstrong #batonrougestrongNo, America, we are not strong, and we need to finally admit it. Without a radical devotion to Jesus, we have no hope.
A NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTIONWe need our President to humble himself, to admit our extreme vulnerability without God and to lead the nation in cries of repentance. Pastors, do the same. Nothing less than a new American Revolution will stop our downward spiral as a nation. Except, this time we aren’t fighting for our independence. We must humbly repent of our pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency. Instead of overthrowing the authority of the British monarchy, we must submit to the authority of the Kingdom of God. If we understand the nature of God, realization of our weakness is very good news for us—if we repent, cry out to God as a nation and surrender to the King.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Hebrews 11:32-34 (ESV)American can become strong out of weakness and put ISIS, cop killers, terrorists and foreign armies to flight—if we turn to God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
PROTESTS VS. REPENTANCE & FORGIVENESSWhat if, instead of protests and attempting to force an agenda, we simply forgave? What if we hit our knees and admitted how dark our own hearts can be?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV)God knows the depths of our heart and we are being tested as a nation. Will we humble ourselves or rise up in anger and pride? The answer to that question will determine the direction of our nation.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (ESV)We have to embrace meekness as a people—if we want our nation to be safe and favored again.
PRAYER FOR OUR NATION IS NOT ENOUGH.It’s laughable when celebrities and politicians tweet and post about prayers being given during times of crisis. Are they really praying? To whom? Is the spirit of prayer really driving them, or is it something else? Maybe if we didn’t wait for tragedy to hit before a national movement of prayer launches, we would find the protection and prosperity we so desire.
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (ESV)Prayer isn’t enough. Per the above passage in 1 Chronicles 7, the prescription for national safety is more involved than simply tweeting a prayer. It will truly take a new American Revolution to see a response like this on a large scale level:
- HUMILITY—We are nothing without God. This is why it’s so critical to elect politicians who are meek. Proud, arrogant people give hope in the natural, but spiritually they are a serious liability.
- PRAY—Prayer movements must erupt from coast to coast. Never ending, heart rending intercession must launch now.
- SEEK—God is calling us into his presence! A holy people running after and encountering God as a lifestyle is a must.
- TURN—The vile wickedness in our nation, and in so much of our church, is a stench in the nostrils of God. Repentance has to begin, and when it does, God will finally forgive our sin and hear our prayer!
Prayer is much different than many of us understand it to be. A revolution of prayer is needed!
The concept of offering up requests in the hopes that an invisible God delivers what we desire is the primary model of prayer for many Christians today. Read the list of prayer requests and hope for the best!
I remember growing up as a young Catholic boy people reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over again as if I was fulfilling some religious duty. Those were not happy days as I lived in unhealthy fear presuming God’s rejecting of me unless I fulfilled the quota.
Now, I do agree that even simple, faith filled recitation of God’s living Word is healthy and extremely positive. However, too many presume reading the Lord’s Prayer or other scriptures is the totality of their assignment in prayer. Read it, agree with it and move on. This is the error I want to talk about.
Prayer isn’t a stale, tedious chore that, once accomplished, we earn favor with God as our desires (or demands) are met as requested. Prayer is the expression of the passion of our heart as we come into fervent, joyful agreement with God. That expression is explosive and it’s actually laughable to presume it can be limited to the mouthing of words! True prayer is comprehensive and it overwhelms us into radical agreement with God and aggressive response to his directives.
Prayer Isn’t Mostly About Us
Prayer is at its most powerful when the focus isn’t on us.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:5 (ESV)
While we may not bring focus to us by religiously praying on the street corners, is it possible that the content of our prayer is at times narcissistic? Is it about bringing attention to us and our situation or to God and his?
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6 (ESV)
Whatever I am passionate about is done as a part of my daily life, in public and in private. On a natural level, I don’t only watch Chicago Cubs games in public to attempt to seek positive attention from others (which would have not been possible until this past season!) but I watch them in private when nobody else is home. Why? I have a certain measure of passion for my home team.
Of course, that’s a sad example when compared to the glories of enjoying and encountering God! We should be praying continually, according to Scripture, because it just radiates in and out of us! It’s not about others being impressed with our religious fervor, it’s about being who we are—lovers of the Most High God!
Prayer Isn’t About Coercing God
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Matthew 6:7-9 (ESV)
I was repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over again as a young child, convinced that my devoted work of speaking out loud would please God and result in a big thumbs up. If you think about that, it’s kind of demented thinking! It reminds me of tribal religions where people sacrifice chickens and mark their bodies as an offering to their gods in the hopes that they are spared from drought, floods and other natural disasters.
Prayer for the Christian comes from the place of deep, abiding love and a wondrous relationship with Jesus.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Psalm 37:4-6 (ESV)
Again, our prayer is simply an expression of our revelation of Jesus! We are ignited with passion as a result of knowing God intimately. We can’t help but to declare the wonders of our God!
Imagine what would erupt out of you after having an experience like is described in Revelation 19. That outburst, that response, is prayer!
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16 (ESV)
The Prayer of the Lord
The Lord’s Prayer is just that—the passions of Jesus. It is truly the prayer of the Lord!
We aren’t to be limited to a simple recitation of words on paper. There is a fervent passion that should be sizzling in our veins as we declare this potent, culture rocking prayer!
16 …The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 (ESV)
The Lord’s Prayer is an intense declaration of our lifestyles that are shaking and shocking our culture. It is an expression of agreement with the plan of God for the nations of the earth!
HOLY ARE YOU!
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Matthew 6:9 (ESV)
This verse shouldn’t be easy to be casually read aloud! The call is for us to have a visitation of God and his holiness! A revelation that causes us to collapse to our knees with our faces buried in our hands as we tremble and cry, “Holy!”
Can you imagine what it will be like to gaze upon perfect purity in our beautiful God’s countenance second after second forever? Oh Lord Jesus come! What an eternity that will be! Day and night never ceasing to declare, “Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”
6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:6-8 (ESV)
YOUR KINGDOM COME
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 (ESV)
The conflict of flesh versus spirit should be causing veins to bulge in our necks as we cry out to God, “I despise the limitations of the flesh! I reject my own natural wisdom and I declare with boldness that your wisdom, your government, your Kingdom is superior!”
This prayer can’t be limited to a one sentence, three second read. As we draw closer and closer to Jesus we develop a never-ending yearning for God and his leadership. Everything else will appear as foolishness in comparison with the government of Jesus.
OUR DAILY BREAD
11 Give us this day our daily bread, Matthew 6:11 (ESV)
Related to the previous point we are declaring our joyful dependence on God. Instead of our Santa Clause style requests flying heavenward in hopes of having our desires gift wrapped and delivered by God, we tell him, “Get me whatever you want.”
How powerful is it to move beyond asking God for the obvious and allowing him to surprise us! Talk about an addicting prayer life! Sometimes the best prayer is not to pray at all. What I mean is, if we have faith that he will supply all of our needs, why would we beg him for our needs to be met?
We can certainly have honest discussions with God about what we are struggling with, but we should do so without worry or frustration. We simply rejoice as we trust God to give us our bread every single day, and I think it’s best if he chooses just what that bread is!
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33 (ESV)
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 (ESV)
Again, this cry of our heart should be automatic. The Lord’s Prayer is a passionate decree of the reality of our lives in Christ. Sin should cause us to weep and grieve as we again draw near to God with confession on our lips. Unholy decisions should so disrupt our flow in the Holy Spirit that we are nearly crushed under the weight—only to find God himself running to us to forgive us and give us new life!
The seriousness and destructiveness of sin should also cause us to quickly, instantly forgive others who have wronged us. That declaration of freedom for others bellows out of us as we unlock prison cell after prison cell allowing the guilty to go free!
In fact, this point in the prayer is so critical, that it is revisited again at the end:
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
A lifestyle of setting people free should mark every one of us. It’s what God does and it’s what we do!
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:13 (ESV)
As inhabitants of a fallen world, we are keenly aware of the power of evil and the enticement of the enemy. This passionate plea should be forever on our lips, or until we eternity at least.
The thought of anything compromising our energizing, fiery, zealous relationship with the Lover of our souls should result in sobriety and locked-in demeanor. We must understand the power of sin and we have no option but to continually be aware of it’s devastating force.
10 …so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (ESV)
IT’S ALL ABOUT GOD!
13 …For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:13 (KJV)
Can you imagine declaring those words, …for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen… in eternity! Imagine how engulfed we will be in him and him alone!
This is true worship!
I want to exhort you to allow the Prayer of the Lord to become your own. Let it be an expression of your overflowing, all in lifestyle of worship and surrender to Jesus.
It’s not just a good group of words to read before bed. Prayer, especially prayer like this, is a testament to who we really are and what we really believe. It’s agreement with God and an unstoppable decree of our agreement with and position in him!