I was talking with some friends today and we got on the subject of our childhoods. We all agreed that it was a world gone by--so much different than the world our children face today. Our moms would send us outside for hours, and never worry that something bad might happen to us. We used to have bells that would ring all over the neighborhood at dinner time, and kids would stop in the middle of whatever they were doing and yell, "That's Martins' bell!" or "That's Savilles'!" and we'd all disperse for dinner.Those were the days . . .Families ate together at the dinner table.On Sunday mornings most of the neighborhood went to church.Church clothes were the nicest things in your closet.The government could be trusted.The media cared about morals.Companies valued their employees.Age and experience counted for something: maturity meant respect and rewards.People cared about the quality of their work.Truth, Justice, and the American Way were synonymous.Homosexuality was illegal.Sex before marriage was shameful.The unborn were called babies."Oh my God!" was swearing.People were more valuable than animals.Christians were the good guys.America was one nation under God . . . and proud of it.I could go on and on, but the fundamental difference is this: when I was a child, the good reigned supreme. Oh, I know evil lurked in suburbia; I know the darkness was there, but it hid under rocks and rarely slithered into the light. It didn't dare because people refused to tolerate it.But today . . . a new time has come. Evil is not only out in the open, it has become the norm. In the twenty-first century, evil reigns supreme. People not only tolerate it--they worship it. Hundreds of millions embraced the sexual promiscuity of Friends and Seinfeld. It became the social norm. Millions tolerated the homosexual agenda . . . it became the social norm. Millions now accept the prejudice against Christianity . . . it will soon become the social norm.The old saying, "A man who will not stand for anything . . . falls for everything" remains depressingly true. If we do not stand up and fight today, there will be nothing left to fight for tomorrow.The battle is a spiritual one, and the Church has the ultimate weapon. We are well-armed and woefully prepared . . . consumed by the cares and comforts of life; selling out our children's future for the price of popularity, big homes, luxury cars, designer labels and wine clubs.It is not acceptable to tolerate evil.It is never enough to disagree with evil.We must fight it.“All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” --Edmund Burke
Mad at God? Here are my father's thoughts on the subject:
How do you deal with being mad at God? When He says He’s your rock and fortress, and the whole house burns down clear to the ground, what do you do?Well, I’d take a good long look at my life and find out if I was playing with matches. That’s the first thing I’d do. If that wasn’t the case, the second thing I would do is go to the Lord and say, “I know Lord, that it is you who, '...works all things together for good to them that love you and are called according to your purposes.' (Romans 8:28) I love you and I am called according to your purposes. Therefore, whatever is taking place in my life right now you will not allow to become so great that I can’t handle it.”God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13). You have not yet resisted to the shedding of blood as the martyrs have done before. So no matter how bad it is, you’re still here—and that’s a plus—because you can continue rebuilding with God.As far as being mad at God is concerned, it’s totally fruitless. If you are offending God by your anger, you’re being petulant. Jonah got mad at God—look at the end of the book—and God rebuked him.If you’re angry with God, the best way to deal with that is to get down on your knees and confess the sin. Tell Him you’re sorry for being mad at Him (even though you’re mad at Him still). Ask Him to help you not to be angry, and to forgive and restore you . . . and He will. He’s so gracious, kind, patient, and loving to a race of people who are determined to pursue their own goals.
Why is it so hard for people to keep their promises? Did you ever run into anyone who promised you the world and then gave you absolutely nothing? I can't tell you how many people have promised me things, and then *poof* they vanish like the fairy godmother in Cinderella."I'll design a new website.""I'll help you with anything you need, just ask.""I'll support your ministry."It's become a very sad pattern and sometimes, the disappointment is hard. I try not to promise people things unless I intend to follow through--so it's been one of the toughest things for me in ministry when some people do not.I say to the Lord, "Not again!" and "Why?"I tell myself, "Maybe something overwhelming came along," or "Maybe they'll still come through." But nothing changes.I don't understand this--maybe I'm just naive--but I was always taught to keep my promises. I think that as Christians our word should be our bond; it should mean something because it hurts people when it doesn't mean anything.In a world where so few people are trustworthy and reliable, I believe a Christian should be right out in front saying, "You can count on me."But all too often, it doesn't happen that way.There is good news, though, in the midst of all this gloom; God provides a rainbow--made up of all the special people who do keep their promises. The wonderfully kind people who write to encourage me; the incredibly generous people who give faithfully month after month--even when it's a sacrifice for them; the tenderhearted people who say and do the most thoughtful things--all of them mean so much to me. They remind me that our work isn't in vain . . . lives have been changed for the glory of God.And so, in the midst of disappointment, God brings encouragement and hope. Some people may let you down, but others will come alongside and love you.
I read the last column of Art Buchwald yesterday. I didn't read him very much when he was alive, but I was curious as to what a renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist would write for his final farewell. He finished it a few months before his death, so he had time to think about it and to change it if it wasn't exactly right.
When I read it, I was surprised. Here was a man that others turned to--a leader--a thinker and yet his final sentence was, "What's it all about, Alfie?" Yes, that's right . . . the irritating question from the old 60s song. Buchwald summed up his whole life with one sentence from a song. The lyrics go like this:
What's it all about Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind Alfie,
then I guess it's wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you'll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.*
So what did Buchwald believe in? He didn't seem to know for sure . . . I guess it was love. But what kind of love?And if we just exist without this love--wouldn't you need to know exactly what it was?Somehow, I doubt it was the love of Jesus Christ.
How sad to end your life still wondering . . . .*Lyrics by Hal David
I've only seen short clips of it in the past, but I've heard the television show American Idol has now reached a new low: humiliating kids 16 and 17 years old, then laughing at them as they cry on national TV. The producers apparently think it's funny to ruin people's lives--because some of these contestants might never recover from this particular kick in the teeth. They think it's humorous to take people who think they're talented and make sure they know they're not by the end of the audition.
It's a sick, twisted form of entertainment and I can't for the life of me understand why people watch it. I guess I would've felt the same way about the Roman Coliseum. And this is what America has become: a giant theater full of people waiting in anticipation for the next victims. I guess you could make the argument that the contestants asked for it--but does anyone deserve cruelty and emotional abuse? And for what? A night's entertainment?
Personally, the name American Idol itself was enough to make me avoid the show like the plague. It has been very successful at raising up a number of idols for people to worship, and I want no part of that.
Evil takes pleasure in destroying anything good, and that is what takes place on this and other Reality TV shows. America has become a nation of voyeurs--thriving on the pain and humilation of others.
The contrast between this and the Word of God is stark: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Eph 4:32Jesus called us salt and light--I think He expects us to say something--even if no one listens.And so . . . I'm off to email American Idol producers: email@example.com
The time is flying by lately, I can't believe how fast. I'm writing a new book based on my father's teachings, and between the research and the writing I wish there were 48 hours in a day.
The Kingdom of the Occult is scheduled for release in September, 2008--if all goes well. I'm working on it with my father's best researcher and our family friend, Kurt Van Gorden (Utah Gospel Mission). You can read all about Kurt's run-ins with the Mormon Church here:
http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:K3OXvYB9wBEJ:www.acluutah.org/120203Amended_Complaint1.pdf+Utah+Gospel+Ministry&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=6He's a warrior for the faith and I'm blessed to know him.
This is an exciting time for me; to be able to work on a book my father always hoped to write is an honor. I know he'd get a good laugh out of it if he knew (and maybe he does); God always uses the ones you least expect Him to use. I think He likes to surprise us.
I ask for your prayers as I continue researching all sorts of interesting things like witchcraft, demon possession, and anything and everything related to the occult. It is fascinating, enlightening, and at times--overwhelming.
So far, it has been an amazing experience. Whenever I sit down to work, I feel the presence of the Lord and I rest in His peace.
So far, so good.
No flying dishes, strange noises, or other assorted psychic phenomena (similar to the kind I experienced when I was a child). . . just peace and an incredible joy in knowing He has triumphed over everything dark and dangerous. I never expected to feel joy when I was writing a book on the occult--but I do. It is such a gift and I'm grateful.
I'll let you know how things go . . . and thanks for the prayers.
A few thoughts from my father, today:
People often wonder how they will know when God is speaking to them. Nehemiah talked of how God put knowledge in his heart. I believe that God speaks to our spiritual natures. The heart is a synonym for soul or for the spirit. I believe God speaks to our hearts very definitively. He tells us things He wants us to do in such a way that we have no rest until we do that specific thing. I can give you illustration after illustration in my own life and ministry where the Lord has done that to me.
I’ve also had the Lord tell me things through people. Not too long ago I was feeling a little bit stressed. I had to finish a chapter on a book that was coming out, and I had some finishing touches on another paperback book. It was a great burden on me with all the other things I’d been doing, and I was feeling very low in my energy levels. I was praying for the Lord to give me some uplifting and some guidance.
Well, that morning I happened to call Christian Research Institute, and they switched me over to the phone system’s background music. There was a guy on there preaching, and he preached to me for about two minutes. His text came from Colossians 1:11 "...being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience....” I needed to hear that exact answer at that precise moment.
I needed to be reminded that it didn’t depend on my energy; it didn’t depend on whipping up my enthusiasm. The Lord’s energy is there when I need it. And sure enough, it was. I finished half a chapter!
God speaks through other people in just that way. Sometimes He speaks through a prophetic word in Church services. I don’t know how many times people have come up to me and said, “That word was meant for me this morning.” God speaks through circumstances—placing us where we can’t help but get the message. He speaks to our hearts and of course, always through His Word. So, there are numerous ways God speaks to you.
You can be sure that God is speaking to you when what comes through is in accordance with the Word of God, when it is for the continuous witness of the individual, for the salvation of other people’s souls, or for the solution to problems that you’ve been praying about. God speaks in remarkable ways.
Why is it that every time I think things are going smoothly, something unexpected happens and my world gets thrown into a spin? Do you think God does this on purpose? Is He trying to keep me on my toes?
I get the feeling God's up to something. He usually is . . . .
I wished for something easy (you know--zero stress), and God gave me a challenge instead.
Please keep us in your prayers.
It's hard to believe that one life can change the world.
I know I have trouble believing it sometimes, but it's true. The story of George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life is the perfect example. He thought his life meant so little, when in reality it meant so much to so many people. He saved his brother, who saved a transport of men; he helped hundreds of people just by believing in them and giving them a chance. He recognized evil for what it was and refused to compromise, even though he was offered a great deal of money.
I like George Bailey. I like what he stands for and I wish there were more people like him. If one man in particular--a well-known Christian leader--had simply picked up the telephone and called my father, it would have spared my family and so many others a world of grief. If one publishing executive had refused to be greedy, another family might have been spared bitter betrayal, and the lies of Preterism--the modern day Hymenaeus and Philetus--would have been denied a public pulpit. If a young mother had refused to commit adultery, two little boys would be alive today.
A man coveting someone else's life; a father leaving his family for another woman; a wife caring more for herself than for her husband and children. It goes on and on--the litany of joy and despair--all because one life matters.
A human being has enormous power at his or her fingertips: one of the deadliest weapons of the satanic realm pierces the heart and whispers, "You are nothing. You don't matter."
Thousands of years of history point to the fact that one life does matter. Jesus . . . Abraham . . . Galileo . . . Martin Luther . . . Marie Curie . . . Albert Einstein . . . endless names in the history of mankind. The dad who works countless hours to provide for his family; the mom who reads every night to her little ones and stays home to raise them, even though money is tight. Who can know the full beauty or disgrace of one life except the Lord? We can only guess at it--but the fact remains it is there.
One life does matter. One life can change the world. Every single one of us embraces this God-given power . . . or rejects it. The mystery of God's sovereignty touches all, but thrown into the mix is the fickle heart of man.
Clarence (the angel): "Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine."
George Bailey: "That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war - he got the Congressional Medal of Honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport."
Clarence: "Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry . . . . Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
When God said, "Love your neighbor as yourself" maybe it was because He knew just how powerful that love would be.
In the scheme of this fallen world, one life made all the difference.
When I was a little girl, I remember my father studying at our kitchen table in New Jersey; his Bible, books and yellow legal pads spread everywhere. He was heading into New York that night to debate the woman who'd singlehandedly tossed prayer out of American public schools: Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
I don't know why the memory of that night remains sharp in my mind, maybe it's because of the fact that even as a child, I sensed my father's intensity; his detemination to defend the gospel.
The next day, I heard all about Mrs. O'Hair, and it wasn't a pretty story. My mother described her as a loud, rude woman with poor hygiene. My father looked exhausted. It had been a hard night, but the atmosphere in our home was one of happiness. Dad had accomplished what he'd set out to do: force Madalyn Murray O'Hair into a tight corner and keep her there. Her own words and actions nailed her to the wall.
In some part of my heart, I learned from that night. I learned to dig in my heels and fight for the gospel. I learned it was necessary to deal with evil--more than that--I learned that God expected me to deal with it, and I had to prepare to do it. Finally, I learned that evil may snarl and snap, but it will always flee from the power of God.
Simple lessons learned as a child--lessons for a lifetime.
Happy New Year to all of you! I hope the new year brings you many blessings.I can't believe it's 2007--amazing. Where has the time gone? (And how many times do we say that in a year?) We had a very happy New Year's Eve with family and just a hint of snow (which is exactly how I like it). I could get used to this global warming.The following is an excerpt from one of my father's great talks on the resurrection. It's one of my favorites."But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher)."--John 20:11-16Nothing can be proven outside the testimony of witnesses or your own eyewitness experience. You and I were not there when Jesus Christ came out of the tomb, but other people saw him alive with infallible proof.One of the greatest psychological proofs of the Resurrection is this: the same people who ran like scared rabbits when they took Jesus captive and brought him up for trial—these same people, three days later, took a 180 degree turn. They suddenly chose to risk exactly the same death their Master had experienced. Psychologically, that’s incredible, unless something happened.If you believe every effect has a cause, what was the cause of the effect—the change in those disciples? We’re not talking theology now, just plain old horse sense. What could have changed them from cowards to conquerors? There is only one thing that accounts for it: They saw him alive! When they saw him alive after they knew he was dead, they knew he had been placed in the tomb, and they knew there was a watch on the tomb to prevent anyone from stealing the body—when they saw this, then they knew the Gospel was 100% true and they were willing to die for it. And they did.You don’t die for a crazy Jewish carpenter whose body was stuffed in some ignominious Palestinian graveyard; you wouldn’t and I wouldn’t, and those boys were smart Jewish boys and they weren’t going to, either. Something changed them, and it was the fact that Jesus presented himself to them.Eyewitness testimony.One of the greatest of them all was John 20. Eyewitness testimony shook the foundations of all of their thinking. When Jesus appeared to them and they touched his wounds, they knew immediately he had to be the Son of God because he was alive with infallible proof.What is infallible proof? Science says that if there is any such thing as infallible proof, it is the repetition of the same experiment. Jesus rose from the dead and Mary Magdalene encountered him—experiment one. The women encountered him—experiment two. The disciples encountered him—experiment three. The Apostles encountered him—experiment four. Five hundred people saw him after the Resurrection—experiment five. Each one of these is the repetition of the same experiment. They all encountered the same phenomenon. What was it? He was alive! That’s what changed the history of the world.