What is a Nationalist?

According to Wikipedia: “Nationalism is a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty over the homeland.”

This seems like a reasonable way to approach your citizenship. You promote the interest of your own country. If you live in a country and you promote the interest of other nations at the expense of your own, that can be called many things, some of them derogatory. And I can see how this would set people at odds with one another. It’s like being a member of the world’s largest homeowners association. If you promote the neighborhood and its safety, health and general well-being,  and you have neighbors who jeopardize those things, this can be a problem. It is especially vexing to the neighborhood if those people who want to compromise the neighborhood’s safety or well-being are calling the other neighbors mean and racist and Nazis for wanting to protect the neighborhood.

When the President, who is well known for his desire to protect America from illegal immigrants, calls himself a Nationalist, it causes an uproar. His critics immediately attach the modifier “white” to it and accuse him of having the KKK in the White House. To be sure, there are things called white nationalists, just as there are black nationalists. But those modifiers are necessary to give an accurate description of the thing you are criticizing.

If you cannot accurately criticize someone, you can always claim that the word used is a “dog whistle.” It is a secret code word for something evil. The problem with these mysterious dog whistles is that only the accusers can hear them. That makes the accusation more about the accuser than the accused.

For several years, before Donald Trump was elected, I had dropped out of political discussions. They seem to be futile and useless. To me, the only thing that really matters is eternal salvation, and reaching children with the Gospel through Good News Clubs. That continues to be what really matters to me. If we want to change the future, we need to change the people, and that cannot happen early enough in our lives.

Unfortunately, very few Christians even care about this. They are caught up in the political fury of this moment, and I can see how this has happened. The church does not send the Gospel into the neighborhoods. It defends it inside its buildings. And a defensive church becomes increasingly sensitive to criticism, being accused of being bigoted, racist, homophobic, mean, and selfish. It starts trying to improve its public relations instead of standing firm on the truth. And the truth is that the Gospel is not an accusation; it’s an invitation. Paul wrote that, “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Unfortunately, we live in a culture of accusation. The accusation is a steady drumbeat against neighbors you want to destroy or overpower. The accusation does not have to be true.It just has to stick. This was the essence of the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror, during which 40,000 people were executed on the strength of an accusation that they were enemies of the people. Many of them were religious people. The French Revolution was quite hostile to religion, even approving a new calendar which rejected all dates AD, Anno Domini, years of our Lord.

We may not be beheading people, but Americans do seem to be losing their heads, figuratively speaking. They accuse their neighbors over their political affiliation, their position on immigration, their right to free speech, and they disassociate from their friends and family over it. It didn’t start with Trump. It didn’t start with Obama. It has been growing over time as politics has grown like a cancer in the hearts and minds of too many of our neighbors. This Tuesday there will be a meeting of the National Homeowners Association, and the early voting is record breaking for a midterm. Have people had enough of their neighbors’ accusations? Or do they want more of it? Whatever the result, our sins will be forgiven by the final arbiter of all things if we will repent and put our faith in Him.

 

Are there NPC’s in our churches?

It was only yesterday that I didn’t know what these plain cartoon characters were about. Now I know. The New York Times has reported that it is the pro-Trump Internet’s favorite insult. It took watching a few YouTube videos for me to grasp their significance.

The short version is this: NPC stands for Non-playable Character, and it comes from the online gaming world, where there are some characters that are generated by the game’s program, and they have no thoughts of their own. It became significant when a group of internet trolls created Twitter accounts and used versions of these characters to spout leftist bullet points and urge people to vote on November 7th, the day after Election Day. Twitter suspended about 1500 accounts for participating in this egregious form of free speech. And now these characters are all the rage, delighting conservatives in the know and triggering sensitive liberals. And I knew nothing about it until I decided to find out why they ere showing up on Facebook and YouTube.

I am quite aware that there are many foolish people who have few thoughts of their own, who are so peer dependent that they are afraid of being independent. But this is not limited to civic involvement. Many fields of endeavor have their posers who have learned to parrot the right things to earn acceptance. Whether you are a man using pick-up lines on gullible girls, or a teenager wearing the trendiest clothes so you will be cool, being fake is not a new thing. We’ve all done it, but that does not keep us from taking perverse delight in someone else being exposed in his fakery.

As a minister of the Gospel, I have been dealing with many church members who could be classified as NPC’s. They seem to have no role to play other than helping to fill a church sanctuary, and giving some token offerings. They are not particularly bad. nor are they particularly good. They are interchangeable with other members who seem to have no individual calling or passion that drives them. They are often in attendance, but never in charge. They are the church’s NPC’s: Nominally Participating Christians.

How do we recognize participation if it is not being merely present? It is not by its perfection, or high achievement. Mistakes are made and losses are suffered. But the Authentic Player is invested. He steps out and puts his faith to the test. We see them in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

In this parable there are three servants. Each is given a sum of money to invest by their master, who is going away for awhile. They each get different amounts. Two of them put their master’s money at risk and make a profit. But one buried his master’s money in the ground, and dug it up to give it back because thought the master was harsh and unreasonable. This man was called lazy and worthless and was rejected. He did not play the game. He was just there.

I am sometimes called negative for pointing out failure. I do it so that a course correction can be made, not to demoralize anyone. Likewise, Jesus told this parable to help people realize that they are expected to play the game, take risks, be invested. The one who buried the talent blamed the master for being too hard. That doesn’t cut it.

As I go about my business of seeking laborers for the Lord’s harvest, and as church members make excuses for why it’s too hard to play God’s game, it will be hard for me not to see these people as NPC’s: fearful of taking risks or making investments or making mistakes. I can’t tell if they are lazy servants who will be cast into outer darkness, or if they are just weak brothers and sisters that need to be carried a little further. Which ever it is, God’s word tells us to warn the idle among us (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Why I Do It

If you read my blog and watch my videos you know I am reaching children for Christ through Good News Clubs®. Not only that, but I am trying to reach YOU so that you will want to reach children for Christ through Good News Clubs. Why do I do that?? Why would I give so much of my time, money and effort to do either or both of those things? Is it just God’s peculiar calling on my life?

For years I worked in children’s church while my kids were growing up. I did it for the same reason a man coaches his son’s baseball team: my kid was on the team! I was always looking for volunteers to help, but most parents were happy to have me watching their kids during church, praised my ministry gift, and said they were not called by God to do this. I would tell them, “I’m not either. I’m doing it because it has to be done.” What has to be done?

People need to hear the Gospel, that God’s son had come to earth, taken our punishment for our sins, died, rose from the dead, and that now we are to obey everything He commanded us to do. When I came to believe in Jesus back in 1981 I just started reading the Bible, and it didn’t take long for me to stumble across Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 and see that Jesus commanded us to tell others so they could be saved, too. So, I started going into prison with my pastor to counsel incoming inmates about their spiritual condition and how they could be saved. I prayed with a lot of young men to receive Christ. It was pretty easy. They knew the consequences of their sin, and knew they needed to go another way. When people asked me, “why do you do this?” I would tell them, “Eventually, the majority of them will be coming out. How would you like them to come out?”

So it is with teaching children the Gospel and how to apply it to their lives. The vast majority of these kids will be growing up. How do we want them to grow up? Do we want them to grow up lost, being captured by the world’s vain philosophies, dedicating themselves to material things, and then dying and going to Hell? Is that OK with us? I know it is not OK with God. He got us involved when He told us to preach the Gospel to every creature before He left the earth. Jesus said, “My father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” And yet they do, right under our noses.

So I am not doing something weird or peculiar. I am doing job one in the way that has presented itself: systematically and in a ministry that has proved itself replicatable all over the world. I takes effort and sacrifice, but it is a pretty light cross compared to others. I spent many years captured by church busy work that kept me away from job one. Some of that busy work is necessary, but if it’s all you do it is a replacement for job one. It has become your excuse for disobedience. Do not stand before you God, holding that dirty napkin with the talent you buried, telling Him, “Well, I’m still here. Isn’t that enough?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deep State, and What Matters

Image from zerohedge.com

I was recently invited to hear a speaker on the subject of the Deep State. I am a bit out of touch with the news lately, but I got the gist of it: there is a conspiracy of unelected elitists who secretly rule our country and the world. I have heard about this in the past, usually in the form of warnings about the Illuminati, the Bilderberg Group, the Club of Rome, and the Rothschild Bankers. I am not disputing that these groups exist, or even that they may be up to no good, but I am trying to put it in the focus of a Christian worldview.

First, I think we can all acknowledge that mankind is sinful. We are all flawed and make mistakes. We generally want to go our own way. We may not agree on what the ramifications of those facts are, but if we are honest at all, we know we have all done bad things. Of course, we have done the evil that falls within  our ability to do it. So, what if you had 1000 times the money, power, and influence that you do now? Might you be tempted with greater evils than the ones that try to lure you now? Of course. For the sake of argument, let’s say that George Soros is using his wealth to destroy America. If he had YOUR financial resources, would it even occur to him to do what he is doing?

So, if you tell me that there is a vast conspiracy of the super rich to dominate the rest of us, I’d say it is possible and perhaps even likely. How am I supposed to feel about that? What am I supposed to do about it? Is God OK with this? These are fair questions and I will tell you how I deal with them, and how you should deal with them.

First, we must put into God’s divine perspective. He is eternal and the world He created is not. Therefore, the things that are being done to control the world are very short sighted. I have chosen not to panic because I will be living eternally with God in His heaven and there will be no sin in it.

Second, we are supposed to be doing what God has commanded us to do: preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, and teach them to obey all things He commanded. Conspiracies real and imagined do not control us, unless we become focused on them. I was more than a little alarmed at the meeting I attended to see that they were using Ephesians 6:12 (For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places) to make the point that we are to oppose rulers and authorities in this physical realm. This is not so. Consider Jesus, who lived under one of the most tyrannical governments in history, and notice that He did not criticize the Roman government or allude to wanting it overthrown! He opposed the religious rulers of His time, as every prophet in the Old Testament did at one time or another. The rulers we are to oppose are in the spiritual realm, and we do that through prayer!

Third, God is not OK with anyone’s sin, whether they are rich or poor. But He did not send us here to stamp it out. He sent us to tell the world that those sins were paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Think about this for a minute. What if the conspiring forces of evil were planning on flooding our nation with undesirable aliens? Presumably they are being let in by people who want to overwhelm us with problems. But what if they were met at the border with the Good News of Jesus? If these people were converted to Christ, it would ruin the plans of the wicked by giving them even more believers in Jesus than they wanted to begin with!

You see, we should be starting a conspiracy of our own: bringing churches together to spread the Gospel to every child and family in America through Good News Clubs. God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and access to children that parents are too busy to raise themselves! If every church would either host or sponsor a Good News Club in the schools, neighborhoods, and commit to do this for the next 20 years, it would bring a national transformation! That’s a conspiracy to believe in!! Rather than fretting about a handful of rich people getting too much power, why not neutralize them? There are millions of us, and we can become many millions more!

Join the conspiracy!

Get in touch with your local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship, and ask how you can expand the Kingdom of God! George Soros will never see it coming!

Things you could do

  1. Volunteer in a Good News Club next school year
  2. Get other people in your church excited about Good News Club
  3. Host a 5 Day Club this summer
  4. Get trained to share the Gospel with children
  5. Pray for local Good News Clubs
  6. Financially support your local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship

Change the lives of children now to have better adults tomorrow!

 

 

The Battle for Nine-year-olds

avery-nat-geoWhen I first saw the cover of National Geographic, featuring a nine-year-old transgender activist, my knee-jerk reaction was to post it on Facebook and talk about how our culture-makers are luring children into  gender confusion. But, then I thought I should do something radical and read the article first. I have done so, and I must admit that my knee had it right the first time.

I have worked  as a volunteer in church children’s ministries since the 80’s, and now work in an evangelistic children’s ministry by vocation, so my snap judgments are formed by experience, training, and research. I am not merely informed by the latest kerfuffle on the Internet. So, the sight of a nine-year-old being given a forum on the cover of a magazine like National Geographic (as opposed to the National Enquirer) causes me to wonder what the agenda is here. Stay with me. This may require some critical thinking.

First, the article informs us that, “National Geographic photographer Robin Hammond interviewed nine-year-olds in four continents. From China to Brazil, Hammond met with kids in their very different homes to talk about their very different expectations for the future and what it means to be a boy or a girl today.” This is pretty tame, straightforward stuff. It should produce fairly predictable information, which it does. One example follows another, how boys get some preferential treatment:

If they were boys, Pooja Pawara from outside Mumbai would ride a scooter, while Yan Zhu from China’s Yaqueshui village would swim in a river that her grandmother insists is too cold for girls. Because she’s not a boy, Luandra Montovani isn’t allowed to play in her Rio favela’s streets, where she says the dangers include “violence and stray bullets.”

I have to admit that I thought it strange that there was an upside to dodging stray bullets. But that is a part of their culture, which is really the point of the article. Culture informs your experience. It gives you norms of behavior. Parents have understood this as long as anyone remembers. It’s the reason you were not allowed to play with certain children because it was deemed as not safe, with no mitigating racial or socioeconomic factors. Even television networks knew there was a time for “family television.”

To cut to the chase, this article was not about transgender children or transgenderism in general. Avery, the nine-year-old transgender (no description of where he/she is in the process), gets two paragraphs and a two quotes and exits the stage, but not without getting on the cover of the magazine. It is as if this ordinary story, telling common knowledge as if it were sage wisdom, was merely an excuse to use the photo that is worth a thousand words. Another quote from the article begs a question of my own:

What is something that makes you sad?
For Tomee War Bonnet, an Oglala Lakota, it’s “seeing people kill themselves.” What plants such thoughts in a nine-year-old’s head? Her reservation’s history of suicides, by kids as young as 12.

Yes, what plants thoughts of gender identity in the heads of attention-seeking nine-year-olds? Being transgender is the new shiny object. It once got you ostracized, but now it gets you something entirely different. You can get a lot of attention, a lot of strokes. A magazine cover is a pretty big prize. There are sex education videos being used to reach out to ten-year-olds that celebrate how special you are, and how happy your parents will be that you are happy with your sparkly new gender identity! I have seen the videos. I will not link them here.

There is a great deal of indoctrination that goes on in our culture, and it reaches down further and further in its age range before our eyes. And it does plant ideas in the heads of children. They are very receptive to these ideas, which is why it is important to know which ideas we should expose them to.

I believe the evangelical church in America has been dropping the ball for years. It is not enough to teach children rote verses and Bible stories about Noah’s Ark and King David and the Lord Jesus without life applications. And some of those applications pertain to living in a culture that is openly hostile to Biblical values like moral excellence and faith in a God you cannot see. There are many forces at work that beat us to the minds of children that have been uninformed about the Bible and what it teaches, as well as those who are actively undermining  those who have been taught. Do we recognize them? Do we know how to deal with changing cultural norms that demand your child’s participation or agreement?

It is no longer good enough to try to shield our children from aberrant information. Like good anti-virus software, you also have to know how to quarantine and disinfect the bugs that get in. And they will get in. To think they won’t is self-deceiving and lazy. It also insures that you will not be changing the world you live in for the better.

There was a time when most Americans had a Biblical worldview. Even the wicked needed the Bible to effectively twist the truth. But today we live in an America that has seen very little evangelistic effort. We are paying for it by losing ground to a worldview that is very evangelistic. The humanistic worldview that eliminates God from its equations and its social mores is on offense. We cannot continue to backpedal and hide in our sanctuaries. We must take back the opportunities God has given us. And every new generation of children is an opportunity for us to get it right. And we are obligated by the Great Commission to do so.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 ESV