Time for some thoughts from my father, Walter Martin:"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:1‑4 (NIV)
Christ, as the good shepherd, is the one who identifies the sheep. He is the one who calls the sheep—it is a personal thing. He calls his own sheep by name and when He leads them out, He goes before them. You do not walk alone in the world, Jesus Christ walks before you if you are one of His sheep.The emphasis is very clear. What does a shepherd do? He leads, feeds, tends and defends the flock. And the sheep listen to their shepherd’s voice.Christians—sheep—may be led astray by false doctrine and false teaching, but they always know the voice of the Master. That is why you can never be happy, contented, or at peace in your sins.Never.You can fall into sin, be led astray or be deceived, but your coat is wool—fleece, not fur—and when the Shepherd calls, you know His voice and you are not comfortable until you respond. That’s what separates goats from sheep: The goats just go on their way, and the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd.Jesus said, “If you really are my sheep, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, when you hear my voice, you’ll listen.”
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45What a great way to begin a week--a reminder that it is possible to love no matter what. Recently, someone said and did something that caused a great deal of sadness in my life, and my first reaction was to turn and walk away from them. I thought, "I don't need this. I have enough stress in my life." Sound familiar? I don't know why, but it seems that the first human response to pain is withdrawal, and Jesus says, "Don't do it!" He tells us to turn toward people in our moments of pain and disillusionment--not away from them. And even more than that, we are to show them kindness, patience and love because this is how God treats us.I thought long and hard about this in a difficult situation, and finally chose to forgive this person and treat them with kindness. I don't think it's possible to do this without the power of the Holy Spirit and even with His help it wasn't easy, and it certainly wasn't a quick decision--but I'm glad I did.One last thing--love is not synonymous with doormat. Evil is still evil and accountability remains a biblical requirement . . . but what a sense of freedom to know it is possible to love no matter what.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Christians are largely responsible for the defeat of Mitt Romney. You can read all about it here: http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB120243323721852411-lMyQjAxMDI4MDAyOTQwMzkzWj.htmlOf course, our "bias" (aka bigotry) is incomprehensible and sad, and now (according to the WSJ)the Mormons will have to stop walking quietly away from confrontations and reconsider their strategy. Yes, believe it or not, this is how the Wall Street Journal portrays Mormon behavior in the midst of confrontation. It is obvious they have never faced the Mormon Apologetic community head-on. Instead, it is the Christians who once again take the brunt of criticism for being so narrow-minded as to fight against the redefinition of Christianity. Shame on us for insisting that the term Christian have a specific theological and historical meaning. What were we thinking?For more details on this, see my latest article:Christians: 1 Romney: 0—Victory for the Christian Right by Jill Martin Rische
The candidacy of Mitt Romney bit the proverbial dust last week in a crushing defeat by Arizona Senator John McCain, much to the bitter disappointment and chagrin of Conservative television and radio stars like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Christians played a major role in Romney’s defeat. “The Mormon religion ‘was the silent factor in a lot of the decision making by evangelicals and others, says Democratic pollster Peter Hart . . . The Romney campaign ran into a religious bias head wind . . . .’” Hannity and Limbaugh—champions of the right and poster boys for Conservative values—lost touch with their constituency during the heat of the primary battles, and they have yet to regain it. Perhaps for the first time in Republican primary history, Conservative media personalities had their hands publicly slapped. They blew it—big time—and the primary elections proved it.Christians overwhelmingly dumped media favorite, Mitt Romney, for an unknown dark horse by the name of Mike Huckabee. And what was the primary difference between Romney and Huckabee? Religious faith. Romney is a Mormon and Huckabee, a Christian.Limbaugh, Hannity and all the rest just didn’t get it—they didn’t understand that Christians will not quietly stand by and allow the Mormon Church to redefine Christianity. These political pundits live for politics, choosing to remain ignorant of even the basic facts of Christian theology—theology this country was founded upon. Once steadfast allies of the Christian Right (who propelled them to national prominence) they chose politics over religion and publicly turned on Christians for refusing to support Mitt Romney.They forgot that Christians are first and foremost committed to Jesus Christ—not politics. They couldn’t see that a unified support of Romney was impossible as long as a Remnant of the Church survives. The Jesus of the Bible is the one and only Son of God, he was not conceived by God the Father, an exalted flesh and blood man, through sexual intercourse with his daughter, Mary. He was not the spirit brother of Satan, the devil (yes that is exactly what the Mormon Church teaches).  He is the unique Son of God, and every Christian must defend this fact to the death. You cannot redefine Jesus without destroying historical Christianity, and this is the battle we just fought and won by the Grace of God.Many religions have tried to alter basic Christian terms and still claim the title “Christian” down through the centuries, but the Church has successfully defended itself against all of them. When Joseph Smith arrived in the 1820s and called all Christian faiths “abominations,” the true Church recognized another fraud and began its long, hard fight against Mormonism.  If we are biased against the Mormon faith (and not its people), it is because Joseph Smith and Brigham Young chose to play fast and loose with Christian doctrine, and that is something we cannot allow. There is only one Jesus as revealed in the Bible; one Father and one God. You cannot redefine them any way you please and still claim the title, Christian. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Only one definition of Jesus . . . only one way to God, and the Mormons cannot be permitted to change it.The mainstream press has categorized Christians as "biased”—a nice way of saying bigoted—while refusing to acknowledge our reasons for standing against Mormonism. We love the Mormon people; it is their theology we hate—a theology that redefines Christianity. Mitt Romney thought he could claim Jesus as his Savior and most people would slap him on the back (just like Hannity, Coulter and Ingraham did) and say, “Welcome to the fold!” And yet, they would never do the same for John McCain in the political realm. He claimed the title Conservative and they argued for months that he was anything but a Conservative.Why? Because words have meaning, and if they do not, we have anarchy. McCain is not a Conservative Republican just like Romney is not a Christian, and we cannot allow people to redefine historical and ideological terms whenever they feel the urge. If Mitt Romney had come out publicly and admitted the true facts about his faith (facts that the Mormon Church doesn’t like to talk about until you’ve been in the fold for a while) I would have respected him a great deal more. But he deliberately portrayed himself and his faith as “Christian” during a national campaign. Romney is a Temple-Mormon; he knows exactly what his church believes and he tried to pass off a new version of Christianity as the real thing to win votes. It is this fiction that true Christians across America refused to accept, and it is this fiction that contributed to his defeat.Ironically, in the same way we fought Mitt Romney over the meaning of the word Christian, Hannity, Limbaugh and all the others now find themselves fighting John McCain in a battle to preserve the true meaning of the word Conservative—a term now in the process of being redefined. The majority of Republicans are upset about it . . . exactly the way most Christians were upset by the attempt to redefine God, Jesus and Christianity. It’s interesting how circumstances change.The defeat of Mitt Romney was an amazing thing to behold, considering the 40+ million spent to ensure his victory, and Christians should be grateful for the moment—always remembering that one thing is likely inevitable: Governor Romney will be back in 2012.
Top 10 Amazing Facts of Mormonism http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/1588/Jill_Martin_Rische10 More Amazing Facts of Mormonism
 Wall Street Journal, “Mormons Dismayed by Harsh Spotlight,” http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB120243323721852411-lMyQjAxMDI4MDAyOTQwMzkzWj.html (accessed February 11, 2008).
 Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:2-4, 9; J of D, 26:214. Journal of Discourses 8: 116; J of D 8: 211; J of D 8: 115; Mormon Doctrine p.546-547.
 Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:19. Smith claimed God sent him to “restore” true Christianity. *All beliefs that deny Joseph Smith as a prophet of God are “of Antichrist.” Journal of Discourses 8:176, Brigham Young; Journal of Discourses 9:312, Brigham Young.
It's Monday morning and I'm starting my week on a note of encouragement. It is refreshing to see someone take a stand for accountability in the Church, and I'd like to thank Bernie Dehler publicly for his courage and commitment. For an eye-opening article on Hank Hanegraaff and the question of accountability (or lack of it), take a look at FreeGoodNews.com:2008 Christian Executive Pay: ECFA (Part 4 of 10)by Bernie Dehler"I recently published the 2008 salary survey for the biggest 20 (self-described) Christian ministries (click here to see). In this article I want to share some of my insight regarding ECFA (The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), which is supposed to be an organization which encourages good fiscal practice amongst Evangelical Christian ministries.
A couple of weeks ago I spoke with Ken Behr, the President of ECFA. I expressed my great dissatisfaction with his group's performance, especially the fact that they don’t require that a member organization's Form 990 (tax return) be completely filled-out. The example I refer to is Hank Hanegraaff’s “Bible Answer Man” ministry (I previously wrote about this; click here to read).Hank put his wife Kathy in a significant position with a high salary, but when the form asks for “How many hours worked per week?” they simply put in “as needed.” That is the same as writing nothing." (Full Story available athttp://www.freegoodnews.com/2008/02/2008-christian.html)