Whatever the future holds for America, the Church and/or our lives, there is no question that the media will be a major instrument that the Lord will use to bring about that future plan. Right now, America is totally consumed with the media. In some ways, it has become our new national "drug" of choice. We seemingly can't escape it and its influence on our lives. Every day we are told 24/7 what to think, what to believe, what is right, what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. It is almost as if even the Lord doesn't exist anymore apart from a media's narrative that shapes people's view of everything...including God. It has often been said that "perception is reality" and that can be a true statement. People never act against their own beliefs and those beliefs may or may not have anything to do with truth or reality. So, if you want to know what people believe, or how they will act, just find out what the media told them to believe. Sadly, rarely do people listen to the Lord and His Word to understand the truth and realities of life. If people just read and studied the Word, like they listen to the media, we would be in a major revival.
Now the concept of the media has always been around from the Garden of Eden. In the Garden, the devil was the first member of the media, and acted as a mediator of truth and reality by calling God a liar and telling Adam and Eve they would not die when they disobeyed God's commandment. Nothing has changed! Today we are watching demonic power filling our culture and lives with lies as the media mediates and distorts truth and reality 24/7. Like the devil, which the Bible refers to as "the prince of the power of the air" according to Ephesians 2:2, the media controls our thinking and the world via the airwaves. The media has become the new expression of the "prince of the power of the air". The media has become the invisible power that works behind the scenes to influence everything.
All of us at Carlson Report want to wish you and your family a very happy Independence Day. We live in times no less momentous than the Founding Fathers and Signers of the Declaration of Independence faced 244 years ago today. May this brief article remind us of our heritage and freedoms as Americans. May this article also remind us that freedom is never free and that someone must always be willing to pay a price to maintain those freedoms or tyranny and slavery will return, as we are currently witnessing. May we all renew our calling today, as the Lord's people, to stand up for our faith in the face of many challenges, and never forget that all freedom in this life and the next are ultimately connected to the Lord Jesus Christ and the price that was paid for our freedom from sin on the cross.
As we look back 244 years ago today, the most famous words in American history come from the Declaration of Independence. So, on this 4th of July weekend, we look back and thank the Lord for those American leaders that laid a foundation of sacrifice to give us everything we have as Americans. Here are the two most famous lines in the Declaration, one at the beginning and one at the end. The Declaration opens with these words,
For the first time in American history, Americans have started to wonder about their personal safety and whether or not they will even be safe in their own homes and neighborhoods in the future. Sadly, the reason for that is that also for the first time in American history there are serious discussions underway all over the nation about "defunding the police." Now the very idea of "defunding the police" would have been thought to be absolutely crazy just a few weeks ago, but suddenly it somehow seems to be a "reasonable plan" by a growing number of people. These defunding discussions are far from just idle talk. As an example, New York City has just decided to defund their police budget by $1 billion, and some say that doesn't go far enough. More cuts are being demanded. Other cities like Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Seattle and many others are also moving in this same direction of reducing their police budgets.
All of this irrational behavior is in response to the recent national protests about the role of the police in our society based on some anecdotal evidence of abuse in a couple of isolated cases. Unfortunately, there seems to be little or no attempt to carefully study what is really going on or to take a serious look at the ramifications of any of these changes and how they might affect their communities and the safety of the public. Instead of a thoughtful, deliberative process, within our democracy, these changes are coming from a mob mentality, and reinforced by the media that has a huge political agenda. Little push back seems to be coming from our elected officials that are supposed to be sworn to protect the public's safety and uphold the law and Constitution. America is surely living in an unprecedented time of growing lawlessness in our streets and halls of government. Sadly, hardly anyone discerns that the removal and/or changing of the police and their powers in any society is foundational to cultural Marxism and their history of revolutionary changes in other societies all over the world. Their current goal is that of taking control of America and entirely changing the Nation forever. Such a Marxist takeover is accomplished by taking control of the streets with a new authority structure they create.
The reason why this issue is so important to discuss and understand is because we are really seeing, perhaps for the first time, the hidden battle of life that points to life's ultimate meaning and purpose. That battle dramatically reveals the ongoing conflict between two kingdoms that have been at war with each from the beginning of time over who will rule this world. One of those kingdoms is headed by the Lord Jesus Christ and the other kingdom is headed up by the Antichrist. The Bible is very clear that this battle has always been going on and will culminate in the coming of the Antichrist just before the 2nd Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In I John 4:1-3 we hear,
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
This is the hidden battle that explains all human conflict. As a result, everything that is under way tonight has little to do with election-year politics, racial issues or social justice. The real issues we are seeing unfold right now are prophetic insights into the ancient, spiritual battle outlined in the Bible that will continue and grow in intensity right up to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and His final rule over and restoration of the world forever more.
Perhaps the best way to understand this battle raging on our streets tonight between Christ and Antichrist is to see that at its heart this is a battle between "law" and "lawlessness." You see, the very existence of any law in the world is the ultimate witness to the reality of there being a lawgiver. As the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis said in his classic book, "Mere Christianity," the very idea of people believing things are right and wrong comes from human conscience and a spiritual law that God wrote into our DNA. That is why people know it is wrong to murder someone. No one needs to have that written down on a piece of paper. That belief and truth is not something people made up or figured out on their own. And while the idea that murder is wrong is written down in the Bible as the 6th Commandment, "Thou shalt not murder" (Exodus 20:13), it goes much, much deeper as a witness to THE Lawgiver, the Lord Himself.
One of the ways we know this is true is because the animal world does not have a conscience, nor any written or spoken laws. Human beings, however, are not animals, but rather carry the image of God on their lives and hence are spiritual and eternal in nature according to Genesis 1:26-27 which states,
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
All animals, on the other hand, operate out of instinct and naturally follow the laws hardwired into their DNA that are innate from birth. Animals don't need to have anybody tell them what is right or wrong and no one needs to enforce a law on them. As a result, you will never hear about "Defunding the Polar Bear Police." It is a story that doesn't make sense and doesn't have to be written. The animal world is self-regulating and external laws are not necessary. Whereas, since humanity is created in the image of God and spiritual in nature, the law must exist and be upheld to reflect God as the Lawgiver, maintain divine order and express the rich blessings of Creation. When that doesn't happen, you are only left with sin and lawlessness.
That is why the Bible always defines sin and leaving fellowship with God as a form of "lawlessness." And when that lawlessness becomes a way of life for people it starts to reflect not only a rebellion against the Lord, but it becomes an actual kingdom with a king. So, this battle between upholding God's laws and rejecting them ends up framing life as we know it. The Lord's kingdom and His laws are headed up and reflected by the Lord Jesus Christ, the goal of the law (Romans 10:4). Meanwhile, the kingdom that has chosen to go its own way without God's laws is headed up by the Antichrist, a person the Bible appropriately refers to as the "man of lawlessness." In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 we hear the story of how lawlessness becomes the defining witness to the arrival of the Antichrist and the entire idea that without God's laws humanity becomes god.
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
The Apostle Paul is telling us here that when people or a society throws off the laws of God and becomes "lawless," that lawless spirit will ultimately become embodied in the spirit of the Antichrist that we are now watching taking control of our nation. Eventually, this lawlessness will not just reflect societal unrest, but it will become an actual person that will embody a final attempt to dethrone the Lord Jesus Christ and His lawful rule over the world, an attempt that started in the Garden.
These days it is very rare for a Christian to ever hear a message about the Antichrist. Most churches and pastors avoid such subjects entirely. Most people today in the Church world just want to "feel good" ...whatever that means and get out of church by noon for lunch. The idea of such things happening right in front of them, as we are now witnessing in America, is just too much for people. Sadly, many churches would rather watch their society fall apart than face the clear teaching of the Bible given by the Lord to help and protect them. And without the Church standing up to this lawless spirit unfolding before us, our nation will not be able to stand in this hour. Without a spirit of faith, courage and discernment operating in the Lord's people, Goliath always takes over as we are watching each day. It is almost as if America is standing powerless before a giant of lawlessness that refuses to back down. Right now, America needs some Davids to come forward and stand up to this unfolding giant of evil and lawlessness in the power of the Lord with His truth and law. Are we willing to be that person? If we won't come forward, who will? Can the Lord's people just sit back and watch this lawless spirit take control of our lives, families, nation and world?
In the end, hell cannot be stopped with platitudes, articles like this or weak kneed political leaders and cultural Christianity. Ultimately, hell can only be stopped by the cross and those willing to embrace its' call on their lives. Our Lord stood up to hell, the demonic realm, evil, lawlessness, sin and death with His finished work on the cross and triumphed over them as we hear in Colossians 2:13-15,
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Our Lord's sacrifice and death brought hope and new life to the world that evil could be conquered and that good could and would prevail amidst overwhelming odds when the right sacrifice was made. The cross remains the defining issue for every spiritual battle we face. It represents the eternal truth that sacrifice is required for every important battle. The unfolding lawlessness engulfing our nation right now requires that the Lord's people make sacrifices and stand up for the Lord. Without such changes and new steps of faith, America as we know is coming to an end. Do you see that truth unfolding?
And finally, whatever anyone believes about evil or the Antichrist, his arrival is nearing. Who can miss this exploding spirit of lawlessness pointing to the coming Lawless One? The signs are everywhere for those who are awake to the Lord and His truth. We are clearly living in a defining hour for not just America but more importantly the professing Church. May our Lord speak to every Christian, every pastor and leader about the hour we face and may we all finish our spiritual journey in this life without any regrets. May we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will come and destroy the Antichrist by the splendor of His coming ( 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Amen.
As Americans stand by and watch our society being destroyed one statue at a time, there seems to be no end to this movement of chaos and mindless mayhem. As a matter of fact, while I am writing this article, a band of people are trying to tear down a statue from the Civil War in Allendale, Michigan, a short distance from my house. It almost seems as if this growing movement of lawlessness and wanton violence against our history as a nation, monuments and statues will not be satisfied until America has literally been leveled by this "scorched earth" agenda. The twisted narrative driving this tells us that America is supposedly an evil and "racist nation" and there must be a revolution to change it and make it right...or else. Of course, no one has the slightest idea of what that "new" nation might look like, but why bother with details at this point. Just burn the place down, destroy any remnant of "racism," however you do it...and we will rebuild something better to replace it later...maybe.
Now as this chaos continues to unfold, I think most Americans are shocked and largely clueless about what is going on. Most Americans have never had anybody really explain to them the cultural earthquake that is underway in our nation. But if you stop for a moment and think about what has been happening to America the last 50 years or so it will all start to make sense. Most of us missed the current narrative we are seeing unfold as it was quietly growing. We didn't want to think it might be serious. We hoped it would go away. We weren't sure how to fix it. So we said and did nothing!
America is a very troubled nation tonight. Do you feel it? Do you see it? A recent poll stated that Americans are more unhappy now than at any time in the last 50 years. But that fact shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Our wonderful nation is adrift in a sea of relativism, lawlessness, deception and chaos. Most of our leaders seem to be clueless on what to do and the few that try to stand up for anything are torn apart by the culture and our media. We are being led away from the Lord, our Constitutional moorings and being pushed toward culturally driven paganism that is growing by the day. Not exactly a formula to inspire hope and happiness in anyone. But perhaps the greatest problem that is most troubling to Americans is that they don't see this future path getting better...only worse. How about you?
A lot of time could be spent in this article on all the issues that have brought us here, but that would take a long time and it is complex. However, you might say it all comes down to the simple and powerful fact that America has corporately chosen to leave the Lord out of our national life. As a result, how could the results we are facing be surprising to anyone, especially Christians? It seems that America has been planting a lot of bad seeds of unbelief and rebellion over the last 50 years or so and they have finally sprouted and have grown into a jungle. Our nation is reaping what it has sowed because God is not mocked by our behavior as Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:6-8,
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
This past week and weekend may be remembered as a turning point in US and world history. That is not an overstatement. We have just witnessed major leaders in the free world bowing down before groups in the name of racial justice out of fear and political correctness. All over the world we are witnessing pictures of top officials and even heads of nations, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, bowing down to support the idea that everyone is a racist and that they must submit to someone's idea of how to define and respond to racism, irrespective of any truth, reality or clear facts. For some this appears to be the emerging "new normal" as Western Civilization seems to be crumbling before our very eyes. The last historical parallel to these events took place during the days of the invasion of Rome by the Visigoths led by King Alaric on August 24, 410. At that time, the once mighty Roman Empire was sacked by a group of barbarians that took over Rome and began to destroy the fading empire. Rome was never the same!
What started out as some local and national protests in response to the police abuse and killing of George Floyd, an African American man from Minneapolis, has turned into an overturning of the rule of law and Constitution with an agenda that virtually no one fully understands right now....by design. After all, if people really knew the agenda that is underway now these groups would lose their power and control over a clueless public. All that is known for sure, as of today, is that America and her leaders must bow down to this agenda, or there will be "hell" to pay. This cultural blackmail has led people to believe that they must bow down, or their homes, businesses, churches and lives will be destroyed...one way or another. And it is that "one way or another" threat that has gripped people with a collective fear like never seen before in American history. People are afraid that if they say "no" to anything, these forces will label them "racists" and use the full force of the media and these groups to attack them.
Most of us have been watching the national chaos the last week or so that has been unfolding since the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Sadly, Mr. Floyd's life was ended by some of the worst police abuse of power we have ever seen in American. All of us should be in horror for what has happened and should pray that justice will be done for Mr. Floyd. At the present time, the police officer responsible for this crime has been charged with murder and we hope and pray that justice will be done as soon as possible. This horrific crime has also unleashed a series of protests, some peaceful and some not, that have raised serious questions about a variety of issues in our nation.
At the heart of these recent battles is the goal of finding true justice for what has been done. Some of the protestors are peacefully demanding that justice be done for Mr. Floyd, while others are looting and destroying property as their way to express their version of justice. But finding justice for Mr. Floyd, at any level, is only the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Floyd's death also touches on much deeper issues regarding supposed injustices that have been committed by our entire society. In other words, if America were not an unjust society, then Mr. Floyd would not have died and so everyone is somehow guilty. As a result of this widespread guilt there is a call for something to be done; something must change. But what exactly needs to be done? How do you change an entire guilty society? After all, changing an entire society in any way is not an easy thing to do, so multitudes of people seem to just be left with their anger and nowhere to go with their feelings of injustice.
As Memorial Day approaches, it is a good time to stop and give thanks to the Lord for the amazing freedoms we have in America. But as we celebrate our nation's freedoms and greatness this Memorial Day weekend, America is also a nation that still needs to be defended. That is true because our nation is facing its greatest challenges to maintain our freedoms from within. It seems there are many forces at work today that want to reshape or fundamentally transform America into a different type of nation that has little in common with the Constitutional Republic founded on July 4, 1776. And while much could be said about all of those forces within our nation, let it suffice to say that all of them are connected to having America sacrifice for them, not the other way around. Selfishness is truly America's greatest battle. Few seem to remember President Kennedy's Inaugural address in 1961 that said in these famous words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Those words have never rung so true as today. America seems to be lost in a growing sea of selfishness and entitlement that it is threatening the future of the Republic as we have come to know and love it.
Thankfully, it wasn't always that way. Just one generation earlier there was a group of people that wanted little if anything from America. Their goal was to give something to this nation. Their lives were shaped by the Great Depression and World War II and they were primarily givers not takers. They were used to hard work and didn't tend to think others owed them anything. They wanted to work. They didn't want someone to take care of them. Many of them had immigrant parents and were just glad to be here in the "land of the free and the home of the brave". Many of their parents and grandparents had come from Europe and around the world to find a new beginning, a chance to be something else, a chance to improve their lives and that of their children. This generation has been called the Greatest Generation by many today because virtually everything that we have has come to us as a result of their lives and sacrifices.
It is hard to believe our national lockdown has been going on for only a few weeks. It seems like months! How about you? How many of us can remember the innocence of Valentine's Day when things seemed "normal" and we were going about everyday life buying flowers and cards for loved ones. Since then, it is not just the lockdown that has made this a difficult time. The really difficult part of this time has been watching what has been happening to our wonderful nation. At the heart of that concern is being shocked by a variety of extreme measures being taken against American citizens during the pandemic. These measures range from being fined, arrested and even jailed for just taking a walk, simply going to dinner with a family member, trying to work in some way to feed your family or listening to a sermon at a local church in your car. The list is long and growing. Such government actions have raised serious questions about whether we are even living in America anymore. Sadly, all these unfolding measures, designed to keep us "safe", are more like something from an emerging totalitarian state we might have read about in high school or seen in an old war movie about Nazi Germany. Surely none of this can be happening in the "land of the free and the home of the brave", as the Star-Spangled Banner says so wonderfully at its close?
Now the most shocking thing about what is happening to America is that every single action being taken by a variety of government leaders is seen by them as "good", "necessary" and "essential" to keeping us "safe". Such actions seemingly cannot be questioned because they are for the public good, right? And while the Constitution and Bill of Rights are under assault like never before, everyone making these draconian decisions sees themselves as faithful servants protecting and caring for the public. Virtually all these leaders apparently remain convinced of their mission from God, the government or themselves to "save us" from ourselves.
One of the most fascinating things going on during our current pandemic is the idea that the government's job is to keep people "safe". Somehow this idea of being "safe" has literally taken over our culture as our number one value in just a matter of weeks. In the "good old days" of about 2 months ago, people would say to each other as they parted, "Have a good day!" Currently people are saying to one another "stay safe". Can you imagine being able to change how the world interacts in such a basic way? This concern about being "safe" has not just become a new parting phrase between people, but a new cultural obsession that is beginning to define how we see our lives. Whereas we used to be enjoying our lives, our new focus is just being "safe".
Now there is nothing wrong with being "safe" and there is nothing wrong with making safety a priority in life, because if we are not safe we won't be able to enjoy life. But an important question is begging to be answered that few want to answer. That question is this: Are there any other things in life that are more important than "staying safe"? If keeping people "safe" is the main virtue of life, then there isn't anything we shouldn't be willing to make sure that happens, even if those measures are extreme. As an example, this goal of keeping us "safe" has become such a mission for some of our leaders that they have decided to do it without the support of the rule of law under the Constitution. Have you noticed? As a result, we are beginning to see people's fundamental rights being denied for the sake of keeping people "safe". Right now, millions of people are under house arrest, confined to their homes, others are being fined and a few have even been shot in certain areas of the world so they can be kept "safe" by their governments. And let it be said that none of these actions are ever being taken by anyone who doesn't think they are doing "good" for the world.
If someone was to ask you what you thought was the greatest experience in life, what would you say? There might be 100 possible answers to that question. But if we really stop and think about it, there can only really be one right answer for the Christian. That answer would be to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in person, face-to-face, and see His loving face looking at ours. The idea that that is going to happen is simply amazing and beyond words. To have the Lord and God of this world looking at us with His own face, as expressed through the Lord Jesus, is just a wonderful thought that cannot be surpassed by anything else we might imagine or dream about in life.
What is remarkable about this thought is that our whole life has been a rehearsal for that exact event from the day we were born. You see, the first loving face we ever saw was that of our mother. Mom had just gone through an agonizing labor and delivery for us so that we could enter the world. When we first saw our mothers, it was probably a little fuzzy exactly who we were looking at. That discovery and growing relationship would take some time...perhaps years until we bought her flowers and told her we loved her.
It is no understatement to say America and the world are living at a unique moment of history, perhaps never to be repeated. Right now, the world is on a global "lockdown" as we attempt to escape the global COVID-19 pandemic. And while many Americans are not working right now, such a situation cannot go on in its present form forever and everyone knows it. The reason for that is simple; a society cannot survive without people working to provide for their basic needs and so that we can generate a tax base to support the government and run our nation. But what if those presuppositions are wrong or seen very differently by people? What if people decided that they didn't really want to work as much anymore? What if people decided to just let the government take over most things and support their lives so everyone could be kept safe from the pandemic?
It might shock people to know that such a system has already been underway in America for a long time now and is increasing rapidly by the day. We call that system socialism and it has been gaining momentum in our nation in dramatic ways as of late. Have you noticed? No, if we are honest, more and more Americans are falling under the spell of socialism each year, especially the young. As a result, increasing numbers of people and politicians are in NO hurry to go back to work, especially if working might get in the way of the government taking care of us and keeping us safe during the pandemic.
What a wonderful thing to take a break from the chaos and focus on the global pandemic to look at a much better storyline, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and His future for us. While much of our world will be looking at how many have died from the coronavirus this weekend, the Lord's people will be singularly focused on the One that rose from the dead and lives forevermore. Sadly, the only reason the coronavirus has panicked the world is because people don't have an antidote to death. That antidote is not found in a new vaccine or anything else but faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross for them. People today are deathly afraid of being infected with this unknown virus, but the reality is that sin is a much worse infection. Right now, the death rate for all of us with or without the virus is a 100%. Just today, for example, about 150,000 people will die from just living in this world, no matter how healthy they might be. If only the world could begin to look for an everlasting cure to death itself we would be in a very different place tonight. It is hard to imagine a world like that since we are so conditioned to death being "normal" instead of an enemy of God. Once the death cure is found in the simple Gospel message, fear is gone, and faith begins to fill our lives forever.
If there is one thing we should all be thinking about on this resurrection weekend, it is not only the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, but that the entire world is not only going to be resurrected, but completely and entirely restored. That thought is so amazing that it seems like "science fiction" to most. Instead of this coming resurrection and glorious restoration of the world, most people believe we are just left to global warming, deadly pandemics, earthquakes, hurricanes and a host of other disasters waiting to happen. And if such things are the best the world has to offer us, no wonder people are panicking. I would panic too! How about you? Just imagine yourself with nothing to hope for except a world underwater or burning up from global climate change with millions dead from uncontrolled pandemics and starvation. Not a very happy place to live. Sadly, that is where many people are today, and the media does nothing to change that focus or future, rather they make it worse with their 24/7 cycle of gloom and doom.
This will be the first Easter/Firstfruits season in world history where most Christians are not going to be in church for services due to the global pandemic. Wow, what a thought! Perhaps that thought gives perspective as to what is underway in our world today. We are living in dramatic times like no other...but we all know that.
Right now, many of us are staying home and trying to comply with our government's restrictions wherever we live. If you're like me, you have probably listened to a lot of media...maybe too much! It is very hard to know what is really happening out there based on a variety of media reports. I think the greatest area of fear and confusion comes from the wide range of possible statistics as to what is going to happen being given out by a variety of people who claim to be "experts". One of the statistics that has made me think twice is the idea that this pandemic might kill over 2,200,000 Americans. However, at the same time, people sharing that grim statistic say it may also be less than 100,000. What a difference! How do we know what to believe? What is true? On the one hand, we might not be able to handle the body count and on the other hand the numbers would be a little more than a bad flu season. It might shock people to realize there were 646,000 deaths from the flu in the world last year and nothing was said. As of today, there are only 42,261 deaths from the coronavirus around the world, with 3,900 deaths here in America. But again, whatever the numbers, what do such statistics really tell us about what is really going on or the future of this pandemic?
Lately it has been a little tough to enjoy the simple pleasures of life when some people are telling us the world is about to end. Have you noticed? Surely the kind of panic and fear that has seized our nation with the coronavirus pandemic can be overwhelming to the average person. Instead of enjoying the Lord, our families and the blessings of each day it seems many of us are starting to tune into the world's network of panic, fear and chaos that is shouting 24/7. When we follow that network we are told about every hour how many people have died of the virus and how our family might be next. Here in Michigan tonight we are being ordered by our governor to stay at home with few exceptions. That means about the only time people are getting out is to go to the grocery store where we can't miss all the empty toilet paper aisles among a few others. So even grocery shopping can produce panic in us if we are not careful.
So, to change the pace of things my wife and I like to go on long walks and try to see what the Lord has for us. Sometimes such walks can be very redemptive because the Lord always has a sermon for us if we are watching and listening. Today was such a day. Thankfully, the signs of spring are all over our neighborhood. One of my favorite sites was the large number of robins we saw getting ready to start their spring nesting season. Robins are like a springtime clock here in Michigan. When you see robins, you know spring has arrived. The one thing I noticed about the robins we saw is that none of them looked anxious. Not one single robin knew about the coronavirus. They didn't care. They didn't know the stock market has fallen or that the nation is greatly divided politically and spiritually. No, as a matter of fact, the robins all looked like themselves. They were just robins.
By now, most of us are watching and perhaps experiencing the panic over the coronavirus that is taking control of our world. Nations are in turmoil, the entire nation of Italy is quarantined, no one can enter Israel without being quarantined for 14 days, stock markets are hanging in the balance, people are fighting over toilet paper and basic supplies for life and the media is preparing us for the end of the world as we know it. If you look at the news right now, it seems like almost every story is about this flu-like virus that some say may be a sign of the end of life on planet earth. Most of us have never seen such a panic going on and according to some the worst is yet to come.
Now if we step back for a moment and take a deep breath, we might begin to understand that the panic under way is much more about how things are being presented to us and a lot less about the reality behind them. Very few people are discussing the facts surrounding this virus and its real effects on people. So it turns out the media is not just reporting this news but making the news. The more people panic the more they panic others in a self fulfilling way. Panic creates panic and right now there is no end in sight. But, if we are honest, we simply don't really know what is fully going on. Right now, we can't easily understand the facts of the matter without the media's polarization of this issue. That will take some time, but not too many people have any interest in doing that because of a variety of hidden agendas.
Without question the greatest trend going on in the American political landscape today is the rapidly growing idea that we can create a heaven on earth without God. The greatest spokesman for this rapidly advancing idea is Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. Recent primary election results from Nevada, and around the nation, have turned the self-proclaimed "socialist' Senator from Vermont into a political "rock star". Enthusiastic crowds fill his political meetings like they are at an Elvis concert. If you watch the faces and cheers for Senator Sander's coming from his supporters one must wonder why people are so excited. Have we all missed something? Is it a new drug or way to get high? What explains this growing political euphoria that seems to be spreading like wildfire and may be leading us one day toward a new view of America we have never seen before?
Now the answer to all these questions is somehow rooted in the basic idea that no human being can live without hope. The Lord has hardwired all of us to look for hope in our lives and everyone is looking for it one way or another. And so it turns out that Senator Sanders has tapped into people's need for hope by presenting himself as an American, political "savior", a person who can help fulfill that longing for hope inside us. The Senator has promised to create a sort of heaven on earth for his followers with his visionary plan to change America into a socialistic paradise. So, it seems that anyone who can create such powerful feelings in their audience is not only going to be very popular but may even be President one day. For now, that someone appears to be Senator Sanders, a possible savior for millions of people.
Everything that has ever been made was made for a specific purpose. Can you think of one thing in your life that you own that doesn't have a purpose? We own cars to get around, work and shop. We have kitchens because we need to eat. We have beds because we need to sleep. We buy tools because we need to make and fix things. We have lights so we can see in the dark. Everything in our lives and homes has a clear purpose or we wouldn't have it. And yet, the one thing that seemingly has no clear purpose or function in life is human beings. So, if you ask people what their purpose or function in life is all about few have any clear and meaningful answer to give you. If you doubt that just try asking someone sometime about this issue and be ready to be amazed at the lack of answers you will receive.
How wonderful then that the Lord has a simple and easy answer to the question of our specific function and purpose in life. You see the Lord designed human beings for the singular purpose of receiving and giving love. That's it! The Lord just wants us to enjoy His love and share it with others because God is love (I John 4:8). This ability and need to share love is the foundation of the Bible and the Lord's purposes in the world today and forever. It is that foundation of love that is behind the Lord Jesus Christ telling us about God's greatest commandments for our lives in Matthew 22:36-40 where we hear,
One of the goals of the Carlson Report is to help our readers develop a better Biblical discernment and to understand the times we are living in. Discernment is often the missing ingredient in our churches and electorate today. In general, people have little idea of what is happening. Our thinking has become shallow and confused by a steady flood of media and the outright manipulation of the truth. Many of our churches, and Christian leaders, do not even have a basic Christian worldview regarding fundamental Christian doctrine. Instead, our churches and leaders are adrift in a media world that is largely influenced by partisan politics. Sadly, such confusion rarely allows us to sort out these challenges and make a difference for the Lord at such a time as this.
Just recently most of us probably saw the image of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, tear up a copy of President Trump's State of the Union speech, while standing behind him before millions of people. Few things in American political history have so clearly demonstrated the rancor, rage and alienation going on in our nation at the present time. These deep divisions in our nation are obvious to just about everyone that is not living in a cave. Our political divisions have spilled over to our families, schools and workplaces. It seems there are no "safe spaces" where you can go without the media bringing this political war into our daily lives.
As we enter a new year, it is interesting to note that every New Year is really a repeat of the previous year....as least on a cosmological basis. That is, every year is still 365 days and has four seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall. So in a way, 2020 is an exact repeat of 2019. The reason this is so is because the Lord's plan to change the world for His glory never changes. The only plan the Lord has ever had is to make us like the Lord Jesus Christ, to conform us to His image. The Lord tells us that in Romans 8:28-29 where we hear,
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Each New Year is a reminder that the cycle of the last year repeats as it unfolds the cosmological story of the death (winter) and resurrection (spring) of our Lord. So each New Year is a repeating reminder that the concept of newness is rooted in what our Lord has done for us and how His life is the template of change as we die to our old life and come alive or resurrect to a new life in Christ.
After pastoring for over 35 years, I have come to the realization that few people really understand the heart of God toward this world and its people. That even includes many in the Christian church. So many people think God is mad at them or getting ready to judge them. So many people are waiting for something bad to happen to them. So many people wonder if this thing called "life" is going to end well. So many people think God wants something from them they are never sure they can give. So many people have no assurance they will ever be in heaven. The list is very long. I have seen all these attitudes, feelings and questions among hundreds of people throughout my pastoral calling. People just lack assurance and confidence on the basic issues of knowing and understanding the heart of the Lord toward them. All these issues and concerns could be answered if people really had a deeper understanding of the Christmas message. That is my hope with this edition of the Carlson Report for you, your family and friends. Share this truth with someone you love this Christmas. That would be the best Christmas gift you could give, long after that new outfit or special gift wears out.
If you want to know something about God Almighty, a good place to start is to ask what God was doing before Genesis 1 and the creation story. In other words what was God doing before we got into the storyline? Was God bored before we arrived? Did God need something to do to be "happy?" No, in eternity past, God was just being God and that was enough. Nothing more was needed. God didn't need anything other than Himself to be content and have a great life. Back then God was love. God was peace. God was joy. Nothing has ever changed. God was having a glorious time being God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity was an everlasting Family of glory that lived life to the full in a way that is beyond what any of us could imagine.
Right now, most of us are looking forward to a blessed Christmas holiday with family and friends in a couple of weeks. Christmas is always a season of wonder that allows us to publicly celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. Christmas reminds us that the Lord of Heaven and Earth had an amazing plan to enter this fallen world as a human being, our Emmanuel, to save and redeem us from our sin and give us life eternal. Christmas has historically been a season, whatever our beliefs, to express kindness and love toward all and celebrates a little good will toward our fellow humans. Christmas has been a special season to work a little less, love a little more, sing some Christmas carols, drink some hot cocoa and take some time to celebrate the gift of life the Lord has given us and enjoy it with everyone the Lord sends our way.
However, this year's Christmas season is going to be a very different one. It appears our President is possibly going to be impeached by our Congress in just a few days. It would only be the 3rd time in the American history that it has happened following the impeachment of Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Somehow impeaching the President at Christmas has left us in a troubling place in what is a normally supposed to be a joyful time. So it seems right now that the Grinch may be trying to steal Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge is saying "Bah Humbug" and King Herod from the birth narrative of our Lord in Matthew 2 is attacking the children in Bethlehem again.
As our Thanksgiving Holiday is celebrated this coming Thursday, November 28, we pause for a moment to reflect on the incredible meaning behind every "Thank You" that has ever been said. It turns out that a "Thank You" is one of the great witnesses to the Lord and the Gospel message that could be given. And the interesting thing about saying "Thank You" is that we all say it to someone, whatever we believe. So if you follow the real source and meaning behind every "Thank You" you end up in the loving arms of the Lord. Let's take a brief look at a typical "Thank You" in this week of Thanksgiving and see how it literally opens the door to see the Lord, Heaven and His love for the world.
You see, the Lord has hard wired Himself into our lives in a way that is almost unseen or unknown by people through the simple words "Thank You". As an example, if a person opens the door for us at a typical store or restaurant most of us would say, "Thank you!" We thank them because they didn't have to do it for us. We are wired to say something in response. Honestly, it's hard not to say something and just walk by and give the person holding the door a "cold shoulder". Lots of people don't open doors for others, so it makes those who do all the more special. You might say that opening the door for someone is an expression of grace. It is an underserved, gracious gift that people are not required to do. In addition, it is also a real joy to open that door for someone else. If we stop and think about it, it may even be a greater blessing to open the door for others than have it opened for us.