The midterm national elections are upon us in a few weeks. Some have called politics "a blood sport" and with all the drama and personal destruction going on, one might wonder what makes people want to run for office at all. Surely some want to help and serve others and make the world a better place. For some the motive may be more about pride or ego to make a name for one. But if we are honest, it seems clear in this hour that some of our leaders run for office to gain power and control over others. Sadly, for some, power appears to be a drug or narcotic that becomes as addictive as alcohol or cocaine. A few leaders just crave the "high" they get when they taste power in office and seem willing to do anything to get elected...literally anything.
Now deep down inside we all feel powerless at times. We live in a fallen world and there are times when we all would like to be in control and gain personal power. This attempt to gain personal power and control is humanity's way to deal with the need to replace the Lord and His power and control. After all, if we believed the Lord is the Lord, Almighty and in control of everything, we wouldn't go after power and control at all because it doesn't belong to us. However, since most people don't believe this truth they go after power and control anyway.
One of the goals of the Carlson Report is to get the Lord's people to do a little more thoughtful and critical thinking about the Lord and our lives in Him. It is easy to get lost in our sound-bite, shallow culture and miss the richness of life and the Lord. After all, aren't we all a bit tired of the mindlessness going on in our world today and sadly, sometimes even in the Church? A more thoughtful Church is a more powerful Church. That is true because we rarely act outside of our deepest thoughts and understandings of things. The truth is, we don't know what we don't know and we don't do what we don't think or know about. So, let's do some deeper thinking today about the Lord and allow Him to change our lives. A renewed mind is at the heart of every growing Christian disciple according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2.
The great philosopher and mathematician Renee Descartes once said, "I think therefore I am." Descartes was looking for a way to validate and better understand his existence. His ability to think led him to understand that the very nature of thought itself was the way to establish his being. In other words, when we think or perceive things we validate them and help to establish their real meaning and existence. So, this ability to think about anything, including ourselves, is a doorway into the meaning of our lives and a preeminent witness to the Lord.
Every poll today tells us that the vast majority of people believe in God or some sort of Deity...over 80% in America. However, the real problem we face today is that people seem to have little fear, awe or reverence of the Lord that deeply changes their behavior. Instead, our belief in God has often just come down to acknowledging God's existence, but not much more. This gap between belief in God and a healthy fear of the Lord that really shapes how we live is the spiritual crisis of the day.
Now this shift and change in how we live out our spiritual lives has been largely centered in the growing loss of a reverential fear and awe of the Lord. It is a change that has been growing for a generation or so. It has been created by a society that has been shaped by growing prosperity, incredible technology and rapidly changing moral standards. As these changes have transformed our Nation, the idea of an "old fashioned, moral God" than can judge our behavior and punish our sin has become less popular. This newer view of the Lord has even led some in the professing Church to give the Lord a "makeover" to attract more potential converts to a more user-friendly deity. The reverence and fear of the Lord has been replaced with what a church or ministry has to offer religious consumers. Any attempt to discuss God's holiness, judgments, our sin or moral accountability has fallen on hard times. And if a church ever mentions the existence of Hell and a final judgment, for many it is time to find a new church home.
If someone was to ask me if I believed that the devil exists and why, here is my answer. Firstly, the Bible does not hesitate to discuss the existence of the devil and the spiritual battles we face each day connected to that reality. How can anyone look at the Lord Jesus' public ministry and conclude otherwise? In numerous passages such as Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:21-28, Luke 8:26-39, John 8:39-44 our Lord was engaged in spiritual warfare with the demonic realm. That battle continues through our Lord's public ministry and consummates in Revelation 20:10 with the destruction of the demonic realm. So, the main reason I believe in the devil is because of what the Bible says.
However, the 2nd reason I believe that a devil exists is watching the history of the world and things that happen in life, especially this current hour. How else can you explain a world being overwhelmed with lies and accusations that are designed to destroy people's lives and gain power? Such a spirit is not entirely of this world. Discerning these issues is hard for people, including Christians. People don't like to mention such things because they are unsettling and unseemly. And yet, the battle underway in America today cannot be simply explained away with politics. There are clearly huge things going on today that point to the existence of the devil and a spiritual battle that is increasing in intensity as our Lord Jesus' return is drawing near.
The Bible tells us that there is never anything new under the Sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And with that thought, we have reached a pivotal moment in American history that needs to be understood and discerned by everyone, whatever our political views as we face the future. This current moment in American history has already happened before, but few ever believed it would emerge in America. You see right now we are watching the slow but steady growth of sanctioned violence that is beginning to surround our political disagreements. It started small, but it is growing each day. Do you see it? If this trend continues to grow, and is left unchallenged, it will ultimately lead us to an America none of us recognizes.
This movement toward sanctioned political violence started small like these things always do. It mainly started when people started telling us that we just couldn't say certain things. It was called "Political Correctness" and people were told there were just things we shouldn't and/or couldn't say. People were told they couldn't say certain things about marriage, sexuality, the family, gender, history, science, Israel, police, immigration, patriotism.... the list goes on. Every topic is on this list, by the way. The reason these topics were "off limits" was because they made some people feel bad. Some even felt hurt or hated by some of this speech. As a result, a new term began to grow in America called "hate speech" and it seems to be gaining influence and power by the day. You see its influence and control in our media, on our college campuses, in our tech companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook and in public discourse. Most people used to turn to the 1st Amendment of our Constitution to protect our speech and differences of opinion, but more and more people seem to be intimidated by the growing cultural pressure to say nothing. Increasing numbers of Americas are afraid of speaking out at work or in their communities about anything. Many people now believe that if they speak out they may not only face public scorn but violence. That is true because for a vocal minority of Americans freedom of speech is never seen as a right that justifies "hate speech" on any level. Sadly, no one really seems to ever know what "hate speech" really is, but that is not even a discussion point for public discourse for those exact reasons. By eliminating needed healthy, public debate on issues, we have forced our society into a bunker of political correctness to hide...and the worst is yet to come.
One of the major, unseen battles going on today in our lives is the attempt to define the relationship between truth and feelings. This conflict is at the heart of the entire Biblical story of redemption, yet sadly it is rarely discussed today. So then, what is the relationship between truth and feelings and why is this issue so important to the Lord and His work in our lives?
For a long time, our society has been moving toward to a place where feelings define reality instead of the truth. In other words, if people feel something is right it must be right, even if it makes no sense or is hurtful and destructive. As an example, if people feel that 2+2=5 then that must be correct, and it becomes the new standard against which mathematics must be measured. The real message of a feelings-driven world is that truth doesn't exist outside of a person's subjective experience of reality. In such a world, facts never matter. Most of us have been in such a conversation with someone where the facts didn't matter, and the conversation ended up becoming an argument that went nowhere. Sadly, this exact issue is where our media, culture and society has been moving for years...and the worst is yet to come. When feelings take over and run the world you are headed for a disaster. That is true because reality eventually shows up at our door and it usually gets ugly! As an example, just imagine filing our taxes using 2+2=5 math. Sooner or later the IRS would audit us, and we might even end up in prison, as a result of our feelings about math and how we define truth.
Does anyone remember the "good old days?" I do. I remember growing up in a sheltered life in suburban Chicago. Life was good. We had fun summers that included swimming at the beach, camping trips, picnics with my family, fireworks on the 4th of July and a good public school where I played football and ran track. People knew Communism was wrong because communists didn't believe in God and we could sing Christmas carols at Christmas. People went to the same-sex locker rooms for PE (Physical Education) and boys never thought they were girls. No one ever talked about killing or impeaching the President in public and we had "In God We Trust" on our money. Men opened doors for women and kids went to the Principal's Office when they caused trouble instead of a lawyer. For some of us such things truly seem like another world today because it was, and I miss those days for myself, my children and America.
And while I miss the "good old days," I am not naïve enough to say that we didn't have problems back then. I was almost drafted during the Vietnam War and some of my friends were experimenting with drugs, so life was far from perfect. But these days it almost seems that we are seeing life move into a level of personal and societal chaos that is hard to explain. A good argument could be made that it is unlike anything seen in human history and it seems to grow more chaotic by the week. Honestly, who would believe some of the stuff going on today? I don't have the room in this brief article to cover the chaos. You all know what I am talking about. How much longer can we go on like this? Does this chaos have an endpoint, or do we just have to get used to it? These are but a few of the questions that everyone should be asking, but few seem to be anymore...even in church. Perhaps many feel there aren't any answers, or at least ones they can ask without offending someone in our politically correct world.
We are living in an incredible time. At the heart of the drama unfolding today is watching America fighting for its identity as a Nation. Every day there seems to be a new battle going on that is intent on dividing Americans and weakening our Nation on the world stage. Sadly, these battles seem to be largely coming from inside our Nation rather than from other nations. It is a spiritual and political war that has largely been created by the American media and progressive political leaders that is dividing the public against itself. This growing division has increasingly become more emotional, rancorous and mean-spirited by the day. As a result, our civil discourse seems to be at an all-time low. It is almost as if there is a new Civil War going on right before us.
Now this past week offers us an excellent example of this growing division at work. The current battle we are told is over the supposed outside influences of Russia on our Nation's democracy, elections and President Trump's decisions and judgment. These issues have gone on a couple of years now and the amount of time and energy they consume in our public discourse is just incredible. We seem to be hearing about this "Russian hacking" of America narrative 24/7, but does anybody really know what this is all about? Are there any answers that will help the average person make sense of things? As we turn to history, informed by the Bible, we will find that there are some clear answers to be found.
In the last few days there has been an avalanche of anger, protests and outrage in response to the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by President Trump. From the moment the announcement was made on Monday there were protests outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. and around the Nation. At the heart of these protests was the belief that the laws of America were going to be dramatically changed by the new Justice and that America would never be the same. Some of the fears and rhetoric about these legal possibilities have bordered on hysteria. Consider this reaction by former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as representative of the fears and hyperbole going on right now,
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party.
At the heart of much of the fears about Judge Kavanaugh's appointment to the Court is the fear by some that abortion will be restricted or made illegal in the future, gay marriage and sexual freedoms might be challenged, needed healthcare would not be available and laws might be interpreted in ways that would "threaten" people's lives...by the millions. As a result, the coming battle to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court promises to be intense and downright nasty as our culture wars over the Constitution, law, truth, right and wrong continues to unfold.
What a blessing to live in America! Like most amazing gifts given to us by the Lord, it is always possible to take our freedoms and liberties for granted and lose them amidst an often-unseen battle going on around us. As we stop on this 4th of July, we have many reasons to rejoice in the current progress for liberty and freedom for the Nation going on. Recent, important decisions made by the Supreme Court have been very encouraging regarding the upholding of our Constitution and the cause of freedom. This constant battle for freedom has always been going on in every generation and was seen clearly by our Founding Fathers. Consider the following comments by some of the pillars of American liberty and freedom and their personal understanding of the great battle for freedom and liberty that is always underway.
John Adams- "You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it."
Patrick Henry- "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Thomas Jefferson- "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
Thomas Paine- "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."
Samuel Adams- "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
If there is one hidden storyline that has dominated our lives the last 20 years or so it would be the absolute love affair the world is having with technology. Everywhere we look today people are falling in love with phones, computers, the Internet and a variety of high tech "toys" that seem to keep people almost under a "spell." And while many of us in the USA seem to be under the "spell" of this exploding technology, there is one nation that is on the "cutting edge" of it all. That nation is Sweden. And so, in a dramatic news item that appeared this week was the report that thousands of Swedes are microchipping themselves voluntarily to make their lives easier and more "techier" for a variety of reasons. The reason why this story is worth considering is because socialistic Sweden, and other parts of Europe, tends to offer a prophetic glimpse into our future here in the USA.
As a pastor, I have had a big connection with Sweden over the years. My grandfather was born and raised in Sweden and I have had the privilege to pastor a church there on two occasions, so I know a little more about the Swedes than many. The Swedes are wonderful people, but their society has been at the far edge of socialism and technology for a long time. The Swedes pay a huge amount of their income in taxes to support the "socialist dream" of a just and fair society. In addition, because of their cooperative socialistic spirit they have experimented with technology on a much deeper level than we have seen here in the USA. Over the past few years that technology has moved them toward a cashless society, which is almost a reality now. So as these many changes have emerged it is not surprising that the Swedes are moving into personal microchip technology on a level few Americans could really dream about...yet. And while it is just starting to catch on in Sweden, there is little doubt that it will begin to grow dramatically in the near future.
The word "Nazi" strikes fear and horror into the minds of almost everyone. Many people remember hearing about or seeing pictures and newsreels of the horrors of the death camps, torture and murder of millions at the hands of Hitler and his supporters in Germany. For the Jewish people in Israel and around the world today, the Nazis still evoke a visceral reaction as they reflect on the over 6,000,000 of their fellow Jews that were murdered during World War II. For Simon Wiesenthal, pictured here, the word "Nazi" was not an abstract concept. Mr. Wiesenthal was a survivor of the Holocaust himself. He was incarcerated in several camps during the war until his liberation from the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp on May 5, 1945 by the Allies. Following his release, Mr. Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life, until his death in 2005, searching out Nazi war criminals trying to escape their past, so they could be brought to justice. His tireless work and desire to educate the public about the horror of the Nazi era is commemorated in the Simon Wiesenthal Center located in Los Angeles.
And while most of the Nazis that lived during World War II are dead or nearing the end of their life, it is very important for the world to remember and understand the conditions that allowed the Nazi regime to take control of Germany and much of Europe during the 1930's and 1940's. History tends to repeat itself, so with Mr. Wiesenthal as a witness to the past, all of us should work together to educate the world so such a thing is never allowed to happen again. That desire is embodied in two words you will sometime hear quoted when looking back on the Holocaust and this tragic period, "Never Again!" May that be so in America today by God's grace.
Do you ever find yourself thinking about Heaven? That theme must surely come to mind every time we attend a funeral or drive by a cemetery. However, for many of us the thought of Heaven may seem very far away today with the busyness of life and not even real at times. And yet, if we believe in the Lord and His Word, Heaven has to be a regular part of our thinking. The wonderful thought of going to be with the Lord and enjoying the wonders of Heaven is at the heart of everything the Christian Faith teaches. That thought was central to our Lord Jesus as He prepared to go to the Cross and shared these comforting words with his disciples in John 14:1-3,
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
However, as wonderful as Heaven will be one day with our Lord, exactly how to get there is a topic on which few seem to agree, even in the Church. And while most people in the world today have some belief in an afterlife, there is little consensus on how to get there. You see we are now living in a global world, filled with multiculturalism. This great diversity of religious options and thoughts about God and a future Heaven have created a tremendous challenge to the Christian Faith and every true believer.
On this Memorial Day Weekend, we take a moment to stop and reflect on the immense sacrifices that have been made by countless men and women for our Nation and its freedoms. One of the phrases you will sometimes hear is that, "Freedom isn't free!" People realize that freedom is a very precious and fragile thing and that without constant vigilance and people willing to sacrifice for it, real freedom will be lost. The reason that is true is because we live in a fallen world in which there is a continual and constant attempt to subvert the Lord and the rule of law. As a result, there isn't a week that goes by when we don't hear about someone trying to overturn the rule of law, freedom and liberty and replace it with their control and manipulation. All you have to do is look at places today like Iran, North Korea, and Syria, Russia and Turkey where real freedom has been lost. This powerful truth was understood by the Founding Fathers of this Nation and by anyone who understands history and the power of sin to enslave people. Without the shedding of blood, none of us would be able to even read an article like this without the possible fear of jail and even death.
At the heart of Memorial Day is a surprising and shocking fact that almost none of us have ever met or known someone who died for our freedoms. I have never personally met a soldier who later died in combat. Most us never got to know the soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy or in Battle of the Bulge, or at the Tet Offensive or during Operation Desert Storm. Hundreds of thousands of people ended their young lives in the mud, in a ditch or laying on a hill far away in places virtually no one has ever visited or could even find on a map. For many of us those battles and places are totally unknown, much less the soldiers who died there and never came home. All one needs to do is take a tour of the American Military Cemeteries in Europe and around the world to realize that there were tens of thousands solders who paid the ultimate price that we knew nothing about. Perhaps that is the reason why it is easy to take Memorial Day for granted. For some it just doesn't seem personal or real. As a result, such incredible sacrifice is virtually unknown to most of the Nation this weekend.
If you really want to know what is going on today, as it relates to the future, keep your eyes on the visible Church and its leadership. The Bible is very clear that a major sign of the Lord's return is connected to the apostasy or departure from the historic Faith. After all, if the Church rejects the true Faith and embraces a false one, you have the seeds of deception and a willingness to embrace a false Christ or anti-Christ. This was the pattern in place during our Lord's 1st coming when our Lord was rejected and killed by the visible Church at the time. Surely, we are seeing that same pattern unfolding today through the Biblical confusion and movement away from the Christian Faith by growing elements within professing Christendom. One of the places where we are currently watching this unfold is in the ministry of Pope Francis. Since Pope Francis was elected to his office on March 13, 2013, the Pope has been at the center of regular controversy. From the beginning of his papacy, the Pope has made numerous statements that have left many Catholics and other Christians completely shocked and uncertain about the Pope's orthodoxy.
As an example, in the last few weeks the Pope has made a variety of public statements that have left people wondering if he even believes in basic Catholic doctrine like the existence of Hell or most recently that homosexuality is sinful. These doctrinal issues represent foundational Catholic and Christian beliefs that have defined orthodoxy for the last 2000 years. Those beliefs are found throughout Catholic statements of faith as found in the Council of Trent and the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. Regarding the reality of Hell, the Catechism states in Section IV-1035,
The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire". The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
As Mother's Day approaches this Sunday, it is a wonderful thing to have a day of the year set aside to honor all our mothers. In a way, every day is Mother's Day because without our moms we wouldn't be here. It never hurts to have a nice reminder about the important people in our lives so we don't take them for granted. And while the meaning of many of our holidays has changed over the years, Mother's Day still brings a warm spot for most of us. The one hope of this article is to not only honor and remember our moms, but perhaps have a deeper understanding of how the Lord has used them to teach us about Himself. After all, Mother's Day is not really just a holiday to buy some flowers, cards or have a nice dinner. Mother's Day started in Heaven before the world was created. All the love, warmth and good things we associate with the best of motherhood are really about the Lord and should point us to Him.
Whatever a person's beliefs or station in life, one thing we know for sure is that everyone has a mom. There is no such thing as a person who doesn't "believe in motherhood," or that moms "may or may not even exist." And yet, millions of people classify themselves as atheists and agnostics and have no real belief or certainty about the existence of the Lord. Few seem to see that you can't reject God and believe in motherhood because it really is the same story, right? Both moms and the Lord tell a story about our origins and where we came from in the beginning. So, you can't really just decide to accept mom and reject God. Sure, people do it all the time, but if you look at this issue a little closer it becomes very clear that God created moms to teach people about Himself. The Lord and motherhood tell the SAME story. Now what is so spectacular about this issue is that the evidence and witness that comes to us from our mothers is an overwhelming and unmistakable witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
For many Americans, the month of May is often connected with millions of students graduating from high school or some sort of higher education program. Many of us reading this blog may even be attending such a graduation for a family member or friend. Graduation can be an exciting time for people, filled with emotions that often mark a "rite of passage" for many of us. Graduations offer us a chance to look back on our achievements and a time to start looking ahead to where we might be going. And while Americans are spending billions of dollars each year to get an education, it has become increasing important to ask ourselves what people are really learning. The reason we need to ask this question is because it increasingly seems that our schools, colleges and universities are doing less and less basic educating. Instead, what has clearly been emerging since the 1960's is that our young people are being indoctrinated more and more with a culturally driven agenda that is often opposed to political conservatives and Christians that eliminates the real pursuit of knowledge and truth.
If we are honest with what is happening today, we would have to say that many of our schools are being run and dominated by a very small group of people that carry a progressive worldview that is directly opposed to the Lord, the Bible, the Church and this Nation's founding principles. And while the purpose of getting an education is to pursue knowledge and truth about life, it seems that a massive wave of political correctness has seemingly taken over many campuses in this Nation where even raising an opposing opinion can be dangerous. The once valued concept of schools providing academic freedom for their teachers and students is vanishing. Instead of allowing schools to be a place where ideas are discussed and tested in the real world, students are protected from life and reality with strictly enforced school policies that define "hate speech" or how someone not using the proper gender pronoun might have a problem with "micro aggression." Under such an environment one must wonder how much "educating" is really going on anywhere these days.
One of the greatest things we can do right now is to STOP, take a deep breath and look at the Lord Jesus Christ in a fresh way. He is everything that really matters today and forever. There is nothing else that is even a close second. As our world is seemingly spinning out of control, one must wonder how much of the Lord anyone is seeing. So often our Lord just seems to get lost amidst our busyness and religious lives. Now is an excellent time to draw near to our Lord's life and His purpose for our lives. The Lord wants us to enjoy Him and His gift of life by understanding and knowing Him on a deeper level. As we will see, every breath we take is a gift to praise, honor and worship our Lord. When the Lord gets our attention to that amazing truth we are changed forever. May that happen to each of us today.
If there is anything that defines our physical lives it is the fact that our heart is beating right now to bring breathe to our body. Without our heart beating and lungs breathing we would die in moments. Every day that simple process is repeated with our heart beating on about 115,200 beats, during which time we take in about 17,000-30,000 breathes. This miraculous process of life is taken for granted by most of us. And yet, this most basic process of life, that guides and sustains our physical lives, is the central witness to our spiritual purpose with the Lord. Let's examine that truth for a moment.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just completed his second day of questioning before Senate and House Committees regarding Facebook's role in our society and issues related to the possible manipulation of our liberties under the Constitution. If you have a chance to listen to the interviews, I would encourage you to do so and share them with others. The interviews are chilling to say the last and are a prophetic picture of the technology nightmare coming our way. It is already here! These interviews have to be one of the most important and scary interviews in American history regarding the future of our Nation, Constitution and the loss of freedoms in our Nation, the Church and our world today.
What started out as an initially innocent social networking company, designed to help people stay in touch and share their lives with their family and friends, has seemingly turned into a sophisticated web of manipulation and control for profit and political gain. In today's hearing before a Congressional Committee, Mr. Zuckerberg allowed the public to get a measured glimpse of what is going on behind closed doors at Facebook. Today's hearing made it abundantly clear that Facebook is engaged in political activism and has been using the data from its almost 3 billion users in an attempt to shape reality, control free speech, brainwash its users, manipulate their thinking, influence people's buying and selling, attack the Christian Faith and even determine political outcomes. And all most of us wanted to do was to share our latest vacation pictures with the people we love and care about.
The simple message of the Bible, our lives and the world to come is that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. This is the foundation of the Gospel and our faith according to I Corinthians 15. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!!! As Easter/First Fruits arrive this Sunday, I want to share a few thoughts about the Resurrection that I hope will stir our hearts toward seeing the greatness and majesty of our Lord in the Empty Tomb and our modern lives today.
When the disciples looked into the Lord's Empty Tomb, they just saw the grave clothes that our Lord had left behind. What really happened in there? The answer, of course, is that our Lord's body passed right through His burial garments and left them behind. Nothing like that had ever happened in the history of the world! Our Lord's body also passed through the solid rock wall of the tomb as well. How is this possible? How is it possible for matter to vanish and pass through other matter? These are some of the questions of Resurrection morning and today. All these hard questions are relevant and important because what happened to our Lord's body is exactly what will happen to our bodies one day soon when our Resurrection Day arrives.
As Good Friday approaches next week, it is worth the time to stop for a moment and reflect on the Cross. Good Friday is a day of celebration that reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and more personally for our sins if we are Christians. And while some churches have Good Friday Services, much of Christendom will skip them and just go to Easter Sunday. Sometimes this skipping of the Cross has increasingly turned into a problem for the Faith because without the Cross there is no real Church, no redemption and surely no Empty Tomb. The centrality of the Cross totally changed the Apostle Paul and led him to say in I Corinthians 2:2,
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
The Apostle Paul realized that everything in life was and is somehow tied to the Cross. He made it his life's mission to know and proclaim Christ crucified and how that old, rugged Cross revealed the heart of the Lord to our world. As Good Friday draws near, let's take a fresh look at the Cross and how the Lord has placed it at the center of everything in our lives today, whether we understand it or not.
The private funeral for evangelist Billy Graham was held yesterday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC before 2400 guests. Millions of others, from all over the world, watched the service online or on television. Billy Graham was 99 years old and will be buried next to his wife Ruth at the same library dedicated to his life and ministry. Billy Graham truly lived an extraordinary life. As a result, he was honored at his death by being only the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in state at the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C on February 28-March 1. Graham is the first religious leader to be honored. At the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Graham "America's pastor." President Donald Trump said Graham was "an ambassador for Christ." Many other tributes and accolades came in from all over the world to honor Graham and his ministry.
If you didn't know anything about Billy Graham, you would have to acknowledge that Billy's life had some sort of deeper meaning from Heaven's perspective. After all, Billy Graham spoke to over 200 million people in person during his ministry, the most of any person in human history about any subject. That number is only a fraction of those who heard him by radio or television over the years. Clearly, the fact that Billy Graham had such influence in the world for the Gospel and with Presidents and world leaders shows him to have had an extraordinary calling from the Lord. Billy's calling was most likely not even fully understood by himself.
We live in fascinating times. Do you agree? One of the great pictures of that fact is the recent emergence of the term "Deep State" into our culture. Have you heard about it? That term, which is now being used frequently, has just come into our vernacular during the last Presidential election cycle. The term has been used to describe officials in the government that are working behind the scenes to sabotage and subvert the constitutionally elected leadership of the Nation. In other words, the "Deep State" refers to people that are breaking the laws they are put in charge of upholding. This lawless behavior may include revealing classified materials, violating the Constitution, manipulating and destroying people's lives without due process and even attempting to remove the President from office through a legally manipulated impeachment. There is no question that our Nation has moved into a very scary time when the rule of law is not being upheld by those appointed to do so. So, when the police become the criminals you have reached a turning point in any society.
As Christians and students of the Bible, the lawless patterns underway in the "Deep State" are not new. The story of the Bible is about another "Deep State" going on against the Kingdom of God from the beginning. The Bible's view of the world is that a group of individuals under the influence of demonic power are working against the Lord and His legal and righteous authority and purposes in the world. The entire course of human history can be explained using this storyline...including the current drama in Washington. This lawless spirit, that refuses to submit to the Lord's authority, is embodied in the spirit of the antichrist, a spirit that is the enemy and counterfeit of the Lord Jesus Christ and His rightful authority over our world. The Bible tells us in I John 4:1-3 that this spirit is at work right now.