Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eco-political thoughts about 2008

There have been some phrases and words used in 2008 that have become so cliche, I am sincerely hoping they disappear from our computer screens, mouths, and magazines.

One is the word "change." It was so ravaged by the politicians, that I am sick of hearing it. It's a catch-all word for those guys, that does not really mean what they think you think it means. For the politicians, the only change they want is a change in power; well, they got it, didn't they? We gave it to them. We believed them. But don't expect their use of change to change your quality of life; it probably won't.

Next on my list is "carbon footprint." What a contrived idea. Seriously. Every organic object has a carbon footprint. They all expend energy; it's part of life. Living things expend energy. Yes, "carbon footprint" is mostly used to describe your voracious appetite for, and expenditure of man-made energy. But this is in the mostly-debunked myth that man-made energy is a bad thing for the environment. What? You did not know that all the hooplah over global warming is just that? Sorry to spoil your day. My dog's carbon footprint just temporarily expanded by a natural expulsion of methane. Oops. TMI.

My top two are equally related: "green," and "global warming."

I once owned a green car and a green truck. Those were the colors. Now it takes on another meaning and you have to be very specific as to what you mean. Sorry if this upsets you, but it's an abuse of your good minds to be convinced to use that word in such an anti-human way. Yes, some of the most ardent defenders of the green concept believe that they can reclaim the earth by removing the worst influence: people. It's odd that they mean everyone but themselves.

As for global warming, too many conferences had to be cancelled in 2008; it was too cold to meet. There was one purpose for that phrase: to get bigger-government people in office, so that you would lose more control, pay more taxes, and have less responsibility for your own future. Don't think I am making this up. You have to read the bottom line that these guys have written. It's all about power, no pun intended.

I suppose I should be spiritual, or something, in this last post of 2008. I do, in fact, believe in global warming. It's prophesied in Peter. The earth shall melt with a fervent heat. I just happen to believe it will happen all at once, not gradually. What does that mean for now? Since we do not know when the Day of the Lord will happen, I suggest you forget the carbon footprint and follow the Creator's footprints. Jesus said to take up your cross and follow him. Those are the footprints you need to be focused on.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just Jesus!

I bet you think this is going to be another pontification about Christmas being about Christ. Though it is, I have something else in mind; I read a news article today that showed America's apostasy. That is, when it comes to heaven, salvation, and those kinds of things, too many professing Christians have bought the tolerance lies that Satan has spewed out since the Garden of Eden. They believe that salvation is about your sincerity of belief. Okay, maybe they did not use those precise words. But they did affirm multiple ways to heaven.

A majority of professing Christians have moved from respecting one's right to choose their form of worship, to actually believing that there are multiple ways to heaven. In fact, that figure reaches to an alarming 65 percent. This includes all professing Christias. Fifty-one percent of evangelicals believe that there are multiple ways to heaven. That figure was higher six years ago, so someone woke up and smelled the burnt coffee. Thank the Lord for a little good news in the midst of the bad.

Still, too many people think that salvation can be about Buddha, or Allah, or some other person. It's not, folks. Salvation is through Jesus. Period. Not Jesus, plus your works. Just Jesus. Not Mohammed as God's prophet. Just Jesus. Not the Noble Path. Just Jesus.

The good news is that God provides a full pardon for our sins. He paid the debt himself by sending Jesus to die for you. God proved he was satisfied with Jesus' sin payment by raising Jesus from the dead. And God said, as it were, "You want salvation? You want eternity in paradise? It's paid for, but you have to accept my payment as good enough. And my payment was Jesus' death on the cross. And to prove I was satisfied, I raised him from the dead after 3 days."

The good news cannot be good without bad news alongside it. The bad news is that, no matter how sincere you may be, if you do not turn to Jesus and place your faith in him and him alone, there is no salvation. There is only that terrible place called hell. Not annihilation. Hell. Not purgatory. Hell. The bad news gets worse: "He that does not believe [in Jesus] is already condemned." Read about it in John chapter 3. So if you do not believe in my Jesus, dear friend, you have already been condemned and are only awaiting the execution of the death sentence. You are on death row. That is what makes the good news good. Someone else was executed in your place, if you are willing to accept his payment. If not, you stay on death row.

Don't place your hope in your ability to earn your way to heaven. Don't trust your religion. Just trust Jesus.

Pray for America. Perhaps God will spare America a few more years so that we can turn to him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Christmas Means to "Them"

Many in the western world are busying themselves with their Christmas preparations. Even in our city, one can drive around and find houses trimmed with lights and all kinds of joyful signs of this great celebration. We laughed as we made our way to the airport a few nights ago. There were all kinds of lighted snowmen, angels, bells, and other decorations lining the median in the avenue. We were amazed to see them, till we saw the locks holding them to the posts. But even at that, it is the first Christmas I remember seeing such decorations on open display in that part of town.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, things don't look quite the same. Christians in parts of India fear for their lives. You can read about it here. Not far away from there, many Chinese are suffering for the cause of Christ, as stated here. There is an agressive attempt to erradicate Christianity from China. Some people never learn; God opened the door and no man will shut it. Nigerian believers are suffering; the same goes in many other parts of the world.

And we westerners still express dismay and amazement over our nativity scenes, over our right to openly display the words "Merry Christmas." Do not misunderstand me; I have a great appreciation for the liberties we have historically enjoyed. I don't want to lose them anymore than the next guy. But when compare with the believers in Iran, or Iraq, or Bangladesh, such harrassment is so small and inconsequential.

Next week, when you stop to open that gift that your loved one bought or made for you, take time to remember your brothers and sisters around the world whose lives may be in danger in the very moment you are sharing your love with one another. "Merry Christmas" for them just may mean living through the night without fear of reprisal for living for Jesus.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pray for Persecution in Gambia

Pray for David and Fiona Fulton. These British Missionaries are being held in Gambia for sedition. Pray for each of them to be able to be a witness for the glory of God, even in the midst of suffering. But pray for them to be set free, if at all possible.

While the charges against them may be sedition, their crime is proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Muslims despise the truth as much as secular humanists in the west do. Some Muslims just happen to be more decisive in their opposition to the word of God.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

About Suffering

It's far easier to speak about suffering when it isn't your own. It's far easier to be an encourager when you are sitting comfortably, looking over at the person, or persons, who are hanging on by a thread. It's that ivory tower mentality that gets us in trouble.

So this is not from my tower. It's up close and personal. It's the kind of comments that come after many a sleepless night, heart palpitations brought on by wondering what the next phone call would bring, and lots and lots of prayer.

Why does God let us suffer? Why do we pass through the fire? Why do we have to pass those sleepless nights, or have to be unable to alleviate the suffering of others? I can think of several reasons. Here are just a few, for starters.

Sometimes suffering is our own doing. You'll find illustrations in King David's life about suffering he brought on himself, as well as on others. You can also see Peter's admonition in 1 Peter 4:15 - "If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler." When it is our own doing, we need to repent.

Sometimes suffering is the result of the evil of this world. I am not in the camp that thinks that everyone is basically good. Most of us have a measure of goodness in us; but the Bible teaches we are not basically good; instead, God teaches that there is none good, not even one (see Romans 3). There are, consequently, a lot of people out there who have given themselves over to evil, to practice what is in their hearts. And we end up suffering because of it.

Do you think that those men who commandeered the jetliners on 9-11 were basically good? They were depraved, indifferent, evil men. Do you think that handful of terrorists who struck in Mumbai were good? They were violent men who sold themselves to do evil. What we often fail to remember, however, is that the same spirit that will lead us to lie is that spirit that will lead us to cheat, curse others, give in to road rage, and even kill.

So some suffering comes as a consequence of evil in others.

Sometimes we suffer because of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Americans are too often unaware of such suffering. We have actually reached a point where we seem to think that it is our right to prosper and live at ease. And when suffering comes, we groan and weep, questioning God for that which comes upon us. Or we file lawsuits. Or we go to the press. And we cast our pearls before swine (the lost world), mumbling something about our rights being trampled. Of course they are being trampled! The world has no interest whatsoever in the things of God's children.

Around the world, even as you are reading this, men and women (and sometimes children, too) are suffering for the cause of Christ. Some are in prison. Some are being starved to death. Some are being tortured in attempts to make them recant their faith in Jesus Christ. Some are being burned alive.

Would you like to know what Peter said about that? Read these verses from 1 Peter 4:12-14:

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

Don't be surprised. You are blessed. Rejoice.

It ain't easy to rejoice when you feel like God's enemies are squeezing the life out of you. But we can do it. It isn't easy to give thanks when everything around us goes wrong; but we can do it.

One more thought comes to mind. Suffering can be God's means of shaping us to be more like Jesus. He is the potter, we are the clay. God can use pressure to mold us. The purest of gold comes out of the smelter's fire. The finest jewels are formed under pressure. The pressures of suffering produce Christ-likeness in God's children. If we allow it. If we let God have his way. If we wait patiently for God to finish the work.

Suffering is not enjoyable. It's not something we need to seek. Troubles will find us soon enough, sooner if we are sold out to Jesus. But suffering is to be expected; it's a part of life. Receive it when it comes. Let God demonstrate what he can do with someone submitted to him.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Are You a Waiter?

There are tens of thousands of men and women, both young and old, that make your meal or other event a little more pleasant when you visit your favorite feed trough. That's what they are there for; they wait on you. They stand to one side (if not scurrying from table to table) and wait for your request so that they can serve you. Today they call themselves "servers" in many places. We once called this group "waiters." Because their single goal was to wait for your call and command and then fulfill it.

That concept is ancient now. The idea that someone would wait for another to give them direction has faded, perhaps due to the fast-food culture that permeates too many societies now. Not so, here. Even the fast-food places have people who will be your waiter. It's nice.

Gone with the concept of a waiter is the concept of waiting, too. Do you like to wait for that word from someone else? Do you find yourself frustrated with serving others? Moms once had to serve as waiters. Now with both parents working in so many places, there are exceptions to that way of life. [I did not say only moms should do that; it's just how things were.]

King David often spoke of waiting in the Psalms. He spoke of it as a privilege. He compared himself to a hand-servant waiting on his master. Our relationship with God should include such a concept. God is the King. We are the servants. He gives the orders; we wait on him to give them to us. And then we fulfill them in his strength and for his honor. It's not to be congratulated. Waiting is strictly for the honor of the one we serve.

Be a waiter for God today. Wait for him to speak and then do what he says.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Birth and Growth of an Idea

This morning I sat on a couch in our office complex, looking across at a couple who have been called to, and trained for, missions. Together, we two couples form a team. We are a team of international missions consultants. Our job is both simple and complex. Simply stated, we find those called and help them get to their place of service, as I wrote a few weeks back. The complexities come in when you consider interviewing candidates, training, networking, and the entire proverbial ball of wax that is a part of sending out missionaries.

This couple--Peruvians by birth, up-bringing, and culture--was excited as we shared our vision for sending out Latin-Americans into all the world. For me, the most gratifying thing was hearing the wife ask (names omitted intentionally), "Who is on our team?" Did you see that small possessive pronoun in that? "Our." It's "our" team. She did not ask, "Who is on "your" team; she asked about "our team."

That is a great hurdle that we have crossed. We bridged a river. Find the cliche that works for you and run with it. We see one another as equals, partners in ministry. We bring to the table what each can bring, showing (trying to, at least) mutual respect and learning what we can from one another.

One important ramification is that when any of us shares an idea, it is not filtered quite as much as can normally happen in cross-cultural communication. So when I brought up some ideas as to how we may accomplish sending out missionaries, I saw their faces light up. When they shared their opinions regarding some of the details, they got to see my excitement.

It was an incubation room. An idea was born and began to grow. It is not a North American idea; it is not a South American idea. It is a mission team idea. I am excited about this for two reasons: one, the goal to send out missionaries from this country is a realistic one in the eye of those with whom we work; two, when the "product" is finally presented to the national church or churches, it won't be seen as imported from another world.

May the idea of sending out laborers continue to grow and bring fruit!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mr. Obama Is President-elect; Now What?

America cast its vote. Congress did not change all that much; it did move to the left. But the presidency took historic steps. So now what do we do? We pray. We do the same thing we would do, no matter the winner. We pray for our leaders. We depend upon the hand of the living God to mercifully move this country to a third great awakening.

Above all, we obey what God teaches in Psalm 37:3 - "Trust in the Lord and do good."

God save America. God save the congress and the president.

Monday, November 03, 2008

An Election Day Prayer

This was placed as a comment on another post. I chose to post it here to be sure it is seen by more people.

A Prayer for the ElectionNovember 3, 2008 By: John Piper
Category: Commentary

Father in heaven, as we approach this election on Tuesday, I pray

1) that your people will vote,

2) and that they will vote with a sense of thankfulness for a democratic system that at least partially holds in check the folly and evil in all our hearts so that power which corrupts so readily is not given to one group or person too easily;

3) that we would know and live the meaning of being in the world, but not of it, doing politics as though not doing them, being on the earth, yet having our lives hidden with Christ in God, rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s;

4) that we would discern what truths and values should advance by being made law and which should advance only by the leavening of honest influence;

5) that your people would see what love and justice and far-seeing wisdom demand in regard to the issues of education, business and industry, health care, marriage and family, abortion, welfare, energy, government and taxes, military, terrorism, international relations, and every challenge that we will face in the years to come;

6) and above all, that we will treasure Jesus Christ, and tell everyone of his sovereignty and supremacy over all nations, and that long after America is a footnote to the future world, he will reign with his people from every tribe and tongue and nation. Keep us faithful to Christ’s all important Word, and may we turn to it every day for light in these dark times.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Holiday Somewhere in South America

November 1st is a holiday where we live. It's All Saints Day. Had this day fallen during the week, schools and businesses would have closed, for the most part. It's that important to some here.

So what goes on? What do people do on All Saints Day? I can't speak for all parts of the world. But here, entire families often go to the cemetery where their departed loved were buried. Often musical bands will be in the cemeteries. The families makea big party out of the event. They bring food, flowers, and beverages. Strong beverages. Intoxicating beverages. They will place the flowers and plates of the deceased's favorite food, and pour them a drink. Then the living family members will often begin to drink along with them. The particpants drink themselves drunk. They dance, tell tales, and drink some more.

This morning, our house helper showed up early--8 AM. She told us that the streets were filled with drunks. I asked if she was speaking of her neighborhood, some 90 minutes away from here. She told me that yes, in that part of the city they were drunk; but right in front of my house the local security personnel had loaded up several who were drunk. Fights, she said, broke out all over. Men fighting men, women fighting women (I have seen the same, as well).

Seeing such a sight is heartbreaking. There is no way I can convey the images through words. Men and women alike pour themselves into this raucous carnival-like event. God is dishonored. Christ is ignored. He is mentioned, but only the most perfunctory manner. After all, it's All SAINTS Day. It's not about Jesus. It's about the dead.

I see little root difference between this kind of celebration and that of ancestor worship. I am pretty sure the same devil dreamed up both of them. And I am fully persuaded that God is not honored in either.

Why does it happen? It's because mankind has set up false gods to satisfy his desire to live free from the God of glory. Mankind seeks a means to justify his life; this is just another of many false truths circulating around the world.

May we seek the living Lord, not celebrate the dead!

Where Do They Stand?

Before you in America cast your vote, know where the two primary candidates stand on the main moral issues. As I said a few weeks back, it is not about the economy; this is about the moral future of our nation.

Vote with wisdom!

Friday, October 31, 2008

No Room for Complaints!

I don't know who originally wrote the following. It has been attributed to various TV celebs. It doesn't matter who the author was. I think it is worth a read:

'As most of you know I am not a President Bush fan, nor have I ever been, but this is not about Bush, it is about us, as Americans, and it seems to hit the mark.'

'The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some Poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence 2/3 of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, 'What are we so unhappy about?'

A. Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 Days a week?

B. Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter?

C. Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job?

D. Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

E. Maybe it is the ability to drive our cars and trucks from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move thro ugh each state.

F. Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter?

G. I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough either.

H. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

I. Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home.

J. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family, and your belongings.

K. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss.

L. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90% of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

M. How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world?

Maybe that i s what has 67% of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see ;us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the 'Media' told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an 'other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a ''dishonorable' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans?

Say what you want, but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer wha t sell s, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by 'justifying' them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way......Insane!

Turn off the TV, burn Newsweek , and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad. We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative.' 'With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, 'Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?'

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When We Pray for the Harvest

If the name were not a trademark, I would call myself an International Harvester. That is the calling upon my life. I am involved in soul-harvesting. It's a life-changing thing, both for me and the ones that respond to God's call.

Jesus told us the fields were white--ready to be harvested (John 4). He also said that there were few laborers to be found. I live in South America, where the harvest is big enough. But I try to think globally, not just about South America. So one thing I do is pray for the harvest. As Jesus told us to do, I pray for laborers.

Now when we pray for the harvest, we need to be ready. Two weeks ago a man approached me with a claim on his life. God answered our prayers for the harvest for a closed country. This man and his wife feel called to go. So, knowing I try to find ways for men and women to fulfill that call, the man asked me how I could help him get to his harvest field.

Not long before the man I just mentioned, I received other calls and e mails from other people who have answered God's call. They have the same question: how do they get from South America to the place where God has told them to go?

We are delighted to actually see God answering our prayers for laborers for the world. I want to encourage you to continue to pray for laborers. God is answering. God is sending his laborers. When we pray, the Lord of the Harvest answers...

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Time for Intolerance

The skinheads are on the march. Their latest antics include threats against Obama and promises to murder blacks in Tennessee.

Now is the time for intolerance. We should stand up and speak out against such a reprehensible plan. Such racial bigotry is repugnant. Thank God these thugs were found out before they could perpetrate such evil.

Christ broke down the middle wall of separation. As we sang when I was a child, "Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight." Obama may not share my values; but he has the right to his own personal journey. God said we should pray for him, not persecute him.

Where Can We Serve?

That was the question posed to me yesterday. The young man asking it is from Colombia. He has been in Peru for two years. I had just preached a message on answering the call of God.

Miguel told me that he has been overwhelmed by the plight of the Peruvian people, especially the poor. He told me that he had seen poverty before; but that poverty did not compare to the destitution he has seen in parts of Lima. I would have to agree. I have stepped across open sewage, running down the middle of the dirt road. I have stepped in all kinds of nastiness, including human waste. (You never get back into your vehicle without first checking your shoes.) The strong smell of dirt and mold in some homes and even in some worship centers is stifling. And I have seen worse: young and old alike combing through mounds of garbage, hoping for something of value they might be able to sell for a few cents.

But Miguel and his wife are discerning people. They know that the physical poverty is nothing compared to the spiritual destitution. Sin is rampant. Souls perish, lost and separated from God. Religion replaces a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Praise God for men and women like Miguel and his wife, who have lifted their eyes and seen the harvest around them. Pray they will find that place God is speaking to them about. Pray their own economic conditions will not interfere or distract them from the calling God has placed upon them. And pray for more laborers for this vast harvest around us.


The Democrat presidential candidate wants to spread the wealth around. Is that new thing with him? No; he thinks the courts failed to address that issue when they had the chance.

I have a message for the gentleman who would be my president; SPREAD YOUR OWN WEALTH AROUND AND TAKE YOUR HAND AWAY FROM MY WALLET! The same goes for the next elected congress. Get away from my wallet! I work hard for what little I earn.

When you speak of redistribution of wealth, you are singing a Marxist song. We have done enough when it comes to stripping away our rights. Let's not take the next step this man asks us to take. It will be a fatal one for all Americans, not just the ones with a little money.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Song of Praise

It's Sunday. The Lord's Day. Resurrection Day.

Think of it: around the world in the past several hours men, women, and children confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord. Some did it for the first time, giving control of their lives over to the one whose name is above all names. How many times today do you suppose the pure joy over repentant sinners caused the halls of heaven to thunder with praise to the Lamb? In that glimpse of heaven, John said the praise to the Lamb was thunderous, like the sound of many waters. And to think, we had the opportunity to unite our voices with theirs, bringing glory to the Lord all over the world.

And the Lord has to be praised. Jesus said that if man did not praise God, the rocks themselves would cry out. All creation praises the Lord. Those pesky birds we hear at daylight praise God. The cricket in the middle of the night praises God. The lion roaring out in the wilds of Africa praises God. Everything that has breath will praise God, because God will be praised.

All mankind will confess Jesus as Lord; some will do it now (May it be billions who do so!); some, sadly enough, will do it as they suffer forever in a hell God never wanted to send them to.

Confess the Lord Jesus now. Praise him now. Honor him now. Sing to the Lord a song of praise.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Decision 2008: What's at Stake?

The races continue, both for the legislative and the executive branches of our federal government. But, believe it or not, this is a race for the judicial branch, too. It is a serious thing. Activist judges have made it so. Consider the marriage amendment in California. Activist judges forced this public debate. They condoned that which is against nature when they agreed that men could marry men and women could marry women. Now Connecticut's activist supremes have joined the ranks of the rank.

One of these times there will be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; or perhaps another attempt at federal legislation. With the legislative branch controlled by the libs, plus a socialist lib in the White House, one can expect the kind of social activism that only causes the hoardes of evil to rub their hands together in glee. If a liberal wins the White House, you can expect appointments of activist judges that will continue what Bill Clinton began in 1992. That includes appointments to the Supreme Court. If you are a follower of Jesus, you don't want to see that.

Our founding fathers said that this government will only function properly for a Christian people. If non-Christians ever take power, the government of the people, by the people, and for the people will cease to be for us and by us. In other words, America as we know it, will cease to be.

If we do not humble ourselves and pray, plus put feet to our prayers by voting and encouraging others to vote a conservative ballot, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We will reap what we sow.

Sadly, some see the voting booth as an a-moral place; that is, there is no right or wrong in your decision. Not so. Vote for a man or woman you know has made evil legislative choices and you are directly responsible for the evil he or she continues to legislate or execute. You will not be held unaccountable when God renders judgment.

What's at stake? Your children's future. The integrity of the nation. You. That is what is at stake.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

America, Others Are Praying for You!

We went to church today, as is our custom. Praise to the King of kings resounded in the small building where we had gathered. Some tried to clap with the music, played quite well by a small band of musicians. Others lifted their hands in praise. Occasionally one or another would cry out their Aleluyas to the Lord. It was moving to be there.

Then came the very good message on being involved in the missionary task. The pastor preached with pathos, pleading with us to get on board and go with him to win this country and the world for Christ.

Then, as the service ended, in the pastor's final prayer, he shifted gears and prayed for America. He prayed that we would once again return to a positon of power through virtue. He prayed for justice. He prayed for America to once again have spiritual power. Men and women all around us cried out their agreement to what Samuel prayed.

The current economic and political situation weighs on many around the world. But believers in the Lord Jesus Christ know that the right and best answer is found in repentance and return to the Lord. And they are praying for America.

Take heart, America; others still love you enough to pray for you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What Have our Supremes Done?

News sources report that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to force Ohio's Secretary of State to hand over the list of voter registrants with discrepancies in their forms. According to the television media, the most liberal associate justice was the one who was to receive the case. This is terribly frightening. How can they wink at the obvious and insist that the wrong person/entity filed the suit? How can they further erode confidence in the greatest test of honesty in our American system? We are not speaking of a few signatures; we are speaking of 200,000. That's TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND irregular registrations.

My trust in the system wavers just now. But think of this: the next president will have the power to recommend for appointment other justices. Do we want more of the same that we are getting through the Ohio debacle?

I think not.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We Voted!

Today was voting day for us. We left our house before ten, drove to the U.S. Embassy in our city, and cast our ballots. It was an energizing thing. Perhaps that is because we were concerned about the arrival of our ballots from Mississippi. But they made it on time, thanks to the diligent work of the office staff of our circuit clerk. They made sure we were able to exercise our voting rights.

The recent concern over voter fraud is growing. The media now report that as many as 200,000 registrations in Ohio alone have irregularities. That, along with the other states where voter fraud is capturing the spotlight should concern us. Our election system was built on honor, a Christian virtue. We are demonstrating that we are spiraling downward when it comes to virtue. Dishonesty and deception should not characterize any aspect of American society; but it has become too common.

I hope you exercise your right to vote. But do not do what some have promised in their sick slogan, "Vote early and vote often."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Has Our Savior Returned?

You may think I have lost my mind. But I have not. There are people out there that have placed their hope in Obama as Messiah. You can read it here. You will see that some see Mr. Obama as the hope for mankind. Beware of such a belief!

Only Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, crucified for our sins, raised the third day, ascended to the right hand of God, ever living to make intercession for the saints, and returning in the glory of the Father--only he is the hope for mankind. Only Jesus can save you. Only Jesus can change the heart of mankind. Only Jesus offers lasting peace.

Our hope does not rest with any man or woman on this planet. God is not going to share his glory with Mr. Obama, or Mr. McCain. He is a jealous God who demands our loyalty to him.

Our Savior will return. When he does, every eye will see him. Everyone will know it. There won't be any question as to who he is.

Until then, we need to beware of those that would tell us otherwise, of those who are willing to accept the title of Messiah.

Watch how you vote! You may be sustaining a false god when you do.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pray for Cuba

Cuba was ravaged by Hurricane Gustav a few weeks ago, along with other Caribbean islands. Now Cuba is suffering from a food shortage. If you have ever gone to the store and found the shelve empty, you understand this. If not, you have no idea about the desperation that can sink into the hearts of parents who wonder if they will be able to feed their children.

Pray for Cuba and other nations that have been so adversely affected by the recent rash of hurricanes in that part of the world. Pray for open doors to both minister to physical needs and meet spiritual needs. This could be one of those tools God uses to open wide the doors to a nation like Cuba.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Which Way, America? (pt. 2)

The news is finally all over the story of Bill Ayers and Barak Obama. Obama now (according to radio sources) claims he thought Ayers was rehabilitated. That means he knew about his past and still chose to use Ayer's home to launch his state campaign in Illinois. But get the point of the above statement. Mr. Obama has flip-flopped yet once more regarding his relationships with those who have a penchant for hating your America. First, they were casual acquaintances; now he thought he was rehabilitated. If that is true, this man is among the most naive to ever run for the presidency. That level of judgment on his part should frighten us all away from him.

Who else supports Obama for president? Among others, a man named Terrence Bean. Read about Mr. Bean here. [caution: the previous link is to a PG-13 article, filled with disturbing news]
Let's not forget our old friend, that racist Louis Farrakhan. What does he believe about Obama? He said that when Obama speaks, the Messiah is speaking. For Farrakhan, Obama is the voice of the Messiah. Are you frightened by that? You should be!

Do we want a president who is supported by the porn industry? I don't! Do you want a man who is lauded by one of America's most notorious hate-mongers? I don't! Vote, but choose wisely. A vote for Obama is a vote for more smut and more perversion. A vote for Obama is a vote for socialism. A vote for Obama is a vote for hatred and division.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Which Way, America?

America is at a crossroads. We have been there before. This crossroads, though, may be one of the most crucial of all times.

America will make choice soon. We will choose whether our wallets control us, or whether we are still a people of reasonable judgment. I fear the choice we will make. I pray for reason, not finances, to prevail. There are a few choices out there for leadership that may be able to make a reasonable difference in America's future, both economically and morally reasonable. There is one choice that is plain immoral. That choice is Barak Obama. He lacks judgment. He is duplicitous. He is dangerous.

Consider the following factual item:

Though the above video is a pro-McCain video, it's not so much I am for him as it is that I am against any voice of insanity, no matter the political affiliation. But the choice for president will come down to McCain or Obama; we have to be realistic here. And given the choice between those two, if we choose to become an Obama-nation, I fear the final consequences.

My desire is for revival and repentance in America. Perhaps we need to do something stupid like vote for Obama. Perhaps that is the only way we will finally come to our knees and repent.

Before we do, though, please consider that this election includes more than the economy. This president will probably appoint 2 or 3 Supreme Court justices. Obama will choose activist judges, both on the S.C., as well as lower courts. We will reap the consequences for a very long time.

This election is not about the economy. To rephrase a former campaign slogan, "It's NOT the economy, stupid." It's the moral direction of our nation. Please be aware of that. Please choose your candidate with discernment, not with dollars.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

An American Carol: What Message Does It Send?

There is a new movie coming out; it's called an American Carol. I just read an article about it here. If I were in the USA, I would watch it. Why? Because of one statement by one of the pseudo-intellectual elitists that mainstream media portray as a voice of reason in America. His name is Maher; Bill Maher. He allegedly said, "We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that -- I think religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies." Shades of Karl Marx!

Maher and his kind represent the intellectual stupidity and spiritual deception that Paul wrote of in Romans 1:22 - "Professing to be wise, they became fools...," Why? Paul said in the verse prior to this, that their foolish heart was darkened. They refused to acknowledge God.

So go see this movie. Go see it and make your stand for Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Many North Americans, citizens of the US of A, will agree that America needs to repent. America has been on a downward slide for 100 years. At her prime, this great nation saw herself as a Christian nation. That did not mean everyone was a Christian; it meant that her values and decisions were influenced by Christianity.

Not anymore.

Not even close.

We are a shadow of what we once were.

I really thought that the current economic "crisis" would be enough to cause us to repent. AIDS did not do it; droughts did not do it; storms have not swayed us. Terrorist attacks almost did it, but not quite. Failed wars, politically known as "conflicts," did not do it. So I thought massive bankruptcies and foreclosures would lead us to repentance. And perhaps yet it will.

But it seems that Americans have replaced a strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with a faith in the government. Let the government bail us out! Let the government fix our poor spending habits. America, you have sold your soul for a mess of porridge.

Now I fear that we will turn our hearts farther away from the God who calls out to us and we will vote for men and women (both congress and the presidency) who will lead us farther away from the once-solid foundations that characterized America. Why? Because we no longer have spiritual discernment. We think with our wallets, not with our brains and hearts. And we will forget the pressing issues that really matter. So we call for "change," but not the kind of change that the word "repentance" means. "Repentance" means a change of your mind/heart that leads to a change in one's behavior. But we want a change in government, not in ourselves. After all, it's far easier to lay blame on external sources than to accept our mess as one we have created.

If America is to thrive, America must repent. And we better be about it soon.

Let's pray for repentance and revival in America.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Day After Yesterday

It's been a whirlwind week for us. We traveled to Quito, Ecuador, which most of you know is somewhere in South America. It's actually just a few miles from the country's namesake: the equator. And that was where our business ended: at the Inti Ñan Museum. "Inti" is Quechua for "sun." "Ñan" connotes "path." So this museum is about the path of the sun along the equator.

The museum is a hands-on kind of place. There were a few interesting experiments demonstrating solar clocks, as well as some tests showing the different results about gravitational flow, as affected by the magnetic forces. For those worried about weight, come to the equator; you will instantly weigh as much as 2 kilos (4.4 lbs) less!

You know that sobriety test, where you have to walk with eyes closed, head tilted slightly up, arms stretched outward with your palms up? Well, you can't pass that one walking on the equatorial line! Not even with your eyes open! The gravity pulls you one way or another. I stumbled towards the north, Pam towards the south.

And yes, water flows out of a drain in opposite directions in both hemispheres. In the southern hemisphere, it flows clockwise; the north is counter-clockwise.

Even with all the fun we had, there were very sober reminders as to why we are in South America. There was a section that demonstrated several people groups that worshiped the sun. If this were not sad enough, there was a ceremonial outfit that was used in both sun worship and a Catholic celebration; it clearly demonstrated the blending (syncretism) of pagan worship with "Christian-based practices." It was a sad, sad sight to see, much less think about. Things of the world should never feel comfortable within Christianity.

This suit (seen above), though, shows a clear belief that mixing the worship of creation with worship of the Creator is acceptable for too many.

[Now, before you wag your head in dismay, check out your own church! What from the lost world influences your worship? That should be cleaned up, too!]

We are home now. It is good to be back. Yesterday was good. But now it is the day after yesterday, and life in this part of South America calls out to us. And we must answer, while it is still called, "today."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

IMB to Face Sweeping Changes

We're changing around the world. It's not a face job, either. The International Mission Board's (IMB) senior leadership, along with trustees, are seeking to do more than put makeup on a puffy face. The changes are intended to make us more efficient. They are supposed to enable us to expand and evangelize at a faster pace.

It's not the first time in the IMB's long life that they have changed. The more recent changes included moving from areas to regions in 1997-98. As a result, there are currently 11 regions through which more than 5,000 men and women engage the unsaved peoples around the world. Those men and women have largely worked in a team format; some teams were quite small and uniquely North American. Other teams were large and included both national believers and North Americans. Together, we sought to challenge the world with the gospel.

Now we are moving to 8 points of focus. These points of focus are to be called, "Global Affinity Groups." Most of them relate to the people groups in Asia; that is logical, since the majority of the world's population is there. But also included in the mix is the European Peoples and the American Peoples.

The groups will be led by Affinity Strategists, who will also have their team of assistants, just as regional leaders do. Within each affinitygroup there will be a varying number of clusters. Within each cluster will be a varying number of teams. Within each team...; you get the point.

Why am I mentioning this in my personal blog? Because I want you to pray for us. Some people will be asked to change roles. Some will take on more responsibility; others may have to take on less than they have right now. Some will have to move, though most will not.

Also, with change comes a disruption of our personal comfort zones. We have adjusted and acclimated to a certain lifestyle--complete with all the emotional and social implications, as well as physical comforts (or discomforts, in some cases). So when someone sends a note and says, "Get ready for change," one's heart can become unnecessarily unsettled. After all, the Lord holds us tightly in his hand. He is not at all surprised by what we are living and experiencing these days.

That's true about you, too. I don't and can't know what each reader faces. But I know this: nothing you face takes God by surprise.

Personally, we are encouraged by what we hear from Dr. Rankin and others. We feel the better days are still ahead, not behind us. Besides, in a world that changes as quickly as this one does, I am thankful to God for a discerning leadership that seeks to keep pace and stay on the cutting edge.

Thanks for praying.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Harvest

Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful..." He also said, "But the laborers are few." Where I live in South America both these truths stare us in the face every single day. Whether we are driving through the gnarled traffic from one place to another, or whether we are out in other communities--rich or poor, it does not matter--we face a massive harvest. We face thousands upon thousands every day.

Today was no exception. Not at all. I went out with two of our finest. I took them to Lima's south cone. There we walked on hill after hill, talking to men and women that I had worked with in prior times. But this time things were a little different. On one hill where we stood, a lady we did not know came to us. She said, "Please come back. Please help our people. We need so much help here. Many of us are starving. Come back at Christmas and have a hot chocolate night." I asked the woman her name; she is Soledad T. Her name means "Solitude (as in, peaceful)." It can also, however, mean "loneliness." I did sense a deep loneliness and longing in the lady. It was obvious Christ was calling out to us through her.

In another community they asked me to explain my long absence. It was hard to explain, since they have no frame of reference for a furlough period. But what I learned broke my heart. All workers we had sent there had left. Some workers who had come in from another church also had left. They were abandoned, when it came to Christian teachings. The men I spoke with asked me to please help with two things: reestablishing the church, and helping them establish a daycare center so that mothers would have a place for their children while they worked.

Again, I was moved. It was not as moving, though, as when some who recognized me, ran to me to greet me with a hug and a kiss. Such Christian affection is a breath of fresh air in such places of darkness.

From there, we moved on to a few other communities, places we sensed God's call to us. I cannot fully explain the sensation and the thoughts that overcome me when I stand in the midst of a large housing community where there is no visible Christian witness. It's painful and at the same time joyful. The mind drums up visions of believers gathering together to worship the King. I can almost hear the praises rising up to our Lord.

Then reality hits. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. I am so grateful Jesus told us how to handle that: "pray, therefore, to the Lord of the Harvest, that he send forth laborers." It's his job to send out the laborers. It's our job to pray for him to do so.

Please join me in praying for laborers to carry the message of redemption to the countless hundreds of thousands in south Lima that need a relationship with Jesus.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Transference in Church Growth

I am in the process of preparing my notes for tonight's Church Growth class. Many thanks to my prof, Dr. Steve Wilkes, of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. His notes from that doctoral seminar have been priceless for me.

One thing that must be emphasized in any church growth class is the danger of transference. I know that many will recognize "transference" as a pyschological term. In fact, Wikipedia defines transference in a number of ways. Here is one affirmation: "One definition of transference is 'the inappropriate repetition in the present of a relationship that was important in a person's childhood.'"

Notice the words, "inappropriate repetition." Those words are key for the intents and purposes of this blog.

We often admire the "successes" of some of the mega and meta-churches around the world. To read and hear--better yet, to attend a service--of a church that thousands may attend is something that often makes us yearn for something more in our ministry. To read anecdotes of successful church planting in other parts of the world does much the same for a missionary. Yes, we rejoice in both cases. But often we also hope and strive to see something akin to it where we are.

And it is there that we are tempted to go down a road that is unhealthy for us. We begin to study the church or field in question, and we see what we can pull from it to use in our ministries. But we must be careful. This is where Dr. Wilkes' sage warning comes in. Dr. Wilkes told us early on [probably not his precise wording, but these are from his notes], "Church growth is a complex issue. Do not fall into the trap of oversimplification. Do not attribute church growth to a single cause. Do not assume you can transfer methods from one situation to another."

In a world where responsiveness to the Gospel varies from location to location, we need to heed Dr. Wilkes' advice. We do not need to be guilty of missiological or ecclesiological transference. God's plan and methods for India may not be God's plan for Guatemala. While our message remains constant, our plans and methods must reflect at least three things:
  • Prayer - the foundational principle of our work within the kingdom of God
  • Local responsiveness
  • Local socio-political and other similar factors

I fear we are so intent on not reinventing the wheel that we too often take unwise, poorly thought-out, and untested shortcuts, seeking the most pragmatic solution to immediate results. We need to be more concerned that we have spent enough time before God to have gotten his plan and methodology, concentrating more on the long-term results, than we do on short-term, immediate results.

Take a close look at your ministry, or your church's or mission's ministry; see if transference--the unhealthy repetition of someone else's ministry ideas characterizes yours. If it does, perhaps it is time to call a prayer meeting to begin the changes you need in your field.

Jesus is Lord!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Friday, September 12, signifies two weeks that we have been back. It took until today to get internet in our house. It took a full week to get cell phones. Our house phones went out of order shortly after arriving and stayed off for five days.

We live in the land of "tomorrow." The workers are coming "tomorrow." They will repair it "tomorrow." The part arrives "tomorrow." The new cell phones can be picked up "tomorrow." Orphan Annie could be here sining, "Tomorrow, tomorrow!"

It is so easy to get into the habit of putting things off until tomorrow when that is all you ever see or hear around you. But we have no promise of tomorrow. None whatsoever. We have today; that's all.

Even if tomorrow comes for you and me, it may not come for someone we know. And what if that someone has no relationship with Jesus Christ? What then? Tomorrow will mean eternal pain and suffering for that one.

So we need to live as though today was all we had. That means being alert to the opportunities that God sends our way. That means both being and doing.

Don't wait for tomorrow. Live for today.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Neglect Can Infect

We have made it back to our house in Lima. It was good to sleep in our own bed. That pillowtop mattress is certainly very pleasant, even though the sheets were damp from the heavy humidity. It was like climbing into a wet sock that first night.

So many things have to be done when you come back into a house after so many months. Things get neglected and you don't need to neglect a single room in a house down here. When you do, small problems can be waiting there for you. Like mold. Or leaks. Or large, ugly arachnids.

Give me the leak any day. You can have the spiders. I grabbed something hollow in a corner that had been neglected (even though that room had been used the entire time we were absent) and it was full of a colony of those things, all crawling on top of one another. I did not know I could move so fast, getting that item out of our house.

Then there are the things that tend to malfunction in your absence, like our phones. We have no phone service; it died in the past couple of days. The security service came by to ask if we knew we had a failure in the phone lines. His question was classic: "Why don't you call them and report your line out of order?" I glibly replied that I would if I had a phone that worked. But we don't. He assumed we had a backup plan--the imperative cell phone. Sorry, those have not arrived yet. Unlike some places in the world, where you can leave the store with phone in hand, we have now waited 4 days for the phones that were to arrive "yesterday."

All of this teaches me an important spiritual lesson: neglect leads to decay. If I neglect my spiritual well-being I will, little by little, begin to decay spiritually. A little maintenance goes a long way in preventing decay; a little exercise will keep your muscles toned. A little spiritual exercise will do the same.

Now I need to return to my house and resume the important work of cleaning and repairing those neglected areas. But first, I need to be sure no area of my spiritual self is in need of cleaning and repair...; how about you?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

About Fishing Holes

I went fishing today. It was a delightful diversion for me. As I stood on the bank of the large pond, I could not help but meditate on the spiritual nature of fishing. No, I am not speaking of being a fisher of men, though the correlation to that is very obvious.

Fishing has many spiritual analogies. The place you fish is important. When you fish is important. The bait is important. There are so many things I could say. I am all too aware that one could poke holes in the illustrations at hand. But bear with me.

I want to make one point that stood out to me. It's about the fishing hole. I have one, a pond of just over an acre. For those of you who are fishing enthusiasts, there are largemouth bass and bream, plus catfish that live there. In the short time I was there, looking at this pond, hidden in the woods a quarter-mile off a back road, I was moved by its beauty and the promise of great fishing it held for me.

Sure enough, as I stood there in the silence of those woods, a large one, commonly known as a lunker, rolled over in the water. Off on the other side, a large grey crane flew off. Had I stood there long enough, I have no doubt one of the many deer that live in those woods would have slipped up for a drink of water.

The wind whispered in the trees around me. The occasional bird called out. Squirrels played in the trees beyond me. It was a sight to behold, with sounds that blessed my ears.

But one thing was lacking: there was no way to get down to the water and cast my line. Yes, in my absence the woods crept up to the banks around the pond. The underbrush was so thick that I could only look longingly at this body of water that held such promise of great fishing.

So off I went, in search of another place to fish, the place I mentioned above as I began this blog.

I stood on the banks of the first pond I mentioned, my cousin's pond, casting my line in different directions, looking for that hungry bass. My mind went back to my pond. It was so grown over I could not take advantage of it. I wanted to, but it was a futile attempt.

The overgrowth made me think of my life. It's a lot like a fishing hole, a place for others to be blessed. Is it unattended, as well? If someone wanted or needed to "fish" in my life, would he be able to get close enough to cast his line? Or would my neglect block him out? What would I need to cut away to give someone access to the fruit God has placed within me to bless others with?

What about your life? Is it in good enough shape for someone to be blessed by it? Or have you neglected your fishing hole?

Oh, I did not catch anything today. But the communion with the Lord was worth the 2 hours I stood and cast that line.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Growing Anti-family Movement

America, it would seem, is becoming more and more anti-family. Multiple companies were pioneers, by insisting on insurance benefits for gay partners. Massachusetts and California were all too happy to circumvent that which is good and natural for that which goes against nature: gay marriage. Now Hallmark has joined the "Extraordinary League of the Perverted." Believe it or not, you can buy gay marriage cards made by this once family-friendly company.

It's their legal right to join the ranks of perversion. It's my legal right to shop there no longer, so long as they offer such products.

When will this kind of thing stop? When we, the church, turn from OUR wicked ways and seek the Lord.

Anti-family is anti-God, anti-Christ. America is comfortable in being that way because we no longer make America uncomfortable when they wallow in sin. How can we, if we wallow in it alongside them?

Join me in praying for revival in the land. It's only then that we will see a positive change in America.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The World Was Not Worthy of Her

A young Christian has died. Her Muslim father killed her. This happens far more often than we in the west know. We are comfortable. We are busy trying to make ourselves worth something in this world. She was worth more than the world could pay (so are we; we are just too often caught up in the hype and glitter of this world's temptations).

So now this young woman stands before Jesus, dressed in white, giving glory to the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. She stands there because the world was not worthy of her.

Let's not lower ourselves to the value of this world.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Homeward Bound

It's been a long furlough--stateside assignment for those familiar with the SBC's International Mission Board terminology. We have been stateside since November. That was at least ten pounds ago for me. Okay, so maybe it was closer to fifteen. That's what happens when you visit church after church that feeds you a meal or two, accept numerous invitations to eat out, and rationalize eating by telling yourself it's the last time you will get to eat here or there.

Aside from gaining a few pounds, we did accomplish a lot this furlough. Let me just name a few of them:

  • We have networked with a number of churches, who will help us in South America
  • We trained men and women to serve as strategic partners
  • We spoke in about 30 different churches in 3 different states
  • We watched our daughters move forward in life
  • We enjoyed the company of our brothers, sisters, and mothers

That is just a small sampling of a long 9 months of time away from our ministries. Now we are more than rested and more than ready to get back into the swing of things.

We are headed to a country we have called "home" for almost 20 years. Yes, come August 29th we are homeward bound.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

There Is a Season...

Twenty days is too long without posting my thoughts. I apologize. Time has a way of moving on, regardless of one's intents and purposes. And, for all intents and purposes, I had to be moving with it.

July has been one of those months that holds all kinds of surprises for us. Shortly after my last post, my future son-in-law was out driving; it was late at night. But anytime, almost, is a good time to be riding a bike. One time that is not good for riding a bike is when a deer runs out in front of you. And that is what happened to Tracey. The deer lost, but so did Tracey.

We thought that was going to put everything on hold. But we went on with our plans, knowing Tracey was well cared for.

Our journeys took us to Baltimore for my nephew's wedding. There, Pam and I celebrated 28 years of marriage. My nephew and his bride were married on our anniversary. The entire weekend was one of celebration for us.

We returned to MS to prepare for yet another wedding: my 2nd born's choice for a life partner was the man who met a deer late one night. In spite of his broken ribs and other injuries, the couple, blinded by the prospect of love and marriage, went forward with their plans.

Off we drove to Destin, FL for the big event. Kim always said she would marry on the beach. She had her dream wedding. We stood on the beach, wind blowing, waves crashing, and curious beach-combers standing off, watching the curious scene. There, the happy couple tied the proverbial knot.

Needless to say, she made a lovely bride. But then, I am prejudiced; am her dad.

I am looking forward to another wedding. It's the wedding between Christ and the church. I long for that day when Jesus comes back for his church. Some doubt that day will ever come; I don't. I hunger for it. I want to see Jesus in his glory step out from the clouds and catch us up to be with him. What a glorious day that will be for those who look for his coming. What a frightening day for those who ignore the imminent return of the Lord.

But upward we will be carried; and there, in the presence of the angels, we will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb. Saints of all ages will be there. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John will be there. Barnabas and Mark will be there. Paul and Silas will be there. Spurgeon, Moody, and so many others will be there. Men and women from every tribe and nation will be there. The celebration will be beyond our comprehension.

There is a season for everything. This includes the return of our Lord Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Family Joy

My last posts took place in South America. This one is from South[ern] America--Mississippi.

My greatest joy of the past month (June) was not my birthday, or Father's Day; my greatest delight was sneaking down to Peru to surprise my baby girl at her graduation from high school.

We had pulled Melissa out of her school, The International Christian School of Lima, to bring her home for an unexpected furlough, known in our circles as "stateside assignment," or "STAS." ICSL was kind and allowed us to continue her studies via correspondence. With that assurance from them I promised Melissa I would do all in my power to allow her to return to march in her class's graduation.

But there was not going to be enough dollars, Euros, or Soles, to get all three of us down there. God was kind to us (he always is) and provided buddy passes for Pam and Melissa. So down they went. At the time we got those passes, it looked impossible for me to join them. The airline pilot who gave us those passes, though, had another one he could share; and he shared it with me.

Being the devious person I am, I chose to keep that information between Pam, the pilot, and me. So, two days before graduation, while Melissa was taking her final exams, I sauntered into the building. No words can describe the shock, joy, and exhuberation Melissa showed when she looked down the hallway and saw me.

No words can adequately describe Pam's or my joy and pride over Melissa's accomplishment.

So now our lives will change; Pam and I will return to South America in a couple of months. This time we go without children. It's a bittersweet feeling. We are both excited and sad. It's been something like 25 years since our nest has been empty.
Those events made for a very full June. Now comes July...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Will Tell?

The world continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. The latest projections put the world population at 7 billion by 2012. That is incredible.

As it stands, China and India lead the world in population. The United States is a distant third.

I have not investigated it, but I strongly suspect the population explosion is outpacing our evangelistic efforts. That means that each day more and more people are dying lost. That means that Scripture is being fulfilled: hell hath enlarged herself (Isaiah 5:14).

Does God want mankind to go to hell? If so, why did he send his only son, born of a virgin, to die for a world that is headed to hell? God does not want to see this world go to hell. He wants you and me to go tell others about the hope that is in Jesus.

The world is growing. Who will go and tell them about Jesus?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Let Your Speech Be Seasoned With Grace and Salt

I am in South America today. We came for my daughter's graduation from her high school. That's not the purpose of this post, though. I have some thoughts about speech--about our conversation.

Today I drove over to the grocery store. The vehicle I was driving was in desperate need of a good washing. So I asked a man to wash it. We discussed his price, which was reasonable to begin with; but a little bit of conversation about such things is important. After we came out of the store, we realized the man was not finished washing the car. So we had a few minutes to kill. That's when it happened; a very unique conversation began.

The young man asked me first where I was from. I told him. He complimented my lack of American accent and then asked what church I attended. That seldom happens, but I was glad to answer. I told him I was Baptist. He asked if that was a Christian church. I told him it was.

He said he could tell I was a Christian by my speech--my manner of conversation. I asked him to explain himself and he said he could tell by my choice of words that I was a Christ-follower.

This was as fine a compliment as I could have received. But it made me think, too. It made me wonder how many times my choices made people wonder other things about me.

Being recognized as a follower of Jesus just by speaking in everyday conversation can be a door-opener. I was able then to speak to this man about his own walk with the Lord. I am sorry to say that I did not have the time to lead him to Christ. But we were able to take it to another plane.

Who do people see when you speak?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Go! Tell!

I just watched the annual report of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can reach the link here.

What moved me most were the testimonies shared by some great men and women in South America. They were in places that you and I may never dare to go. But the call to go tell was too strong for them to stay here. The drive to obey Jesus Christ outweighs the fear for their lives, the frustration of harsh living, and even the risk of being seen as foolish by one's peers.

South America is a massive continent. Lostness is pervasive. There are 355 million men, women, and children who still need to repent and believe the gospel. Every 15 seconds someone in South America dies and goes to hell. Eighty percent of the people living in South America live in large cities, some as large as 18 million. There are at least 41 cities with a population of a million, or more. 

While we are seeing modest gains here and there, the vast majority continues in the kingdom of darkness.  If they knew what we knew, they would cry out to us. 

They would say, "Go! Tell the good news to my people!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is the Door Closing to Share the Gospel?

The Lausanne World Pulse just made an astonishing claim about India: the door to the gospel seems to be closing.

Persecution and rejection are commonplace in some parts of the world. Why are we surprised? Jesus prophesied it; Paul proclaimed it; Peter asked his readers why they were so surprised.

Westerners are concerned about the growing rejection of the gospel, too. Our methods to try to rectify that rejection leave something to be desired. We become "user friendly." I watched one church service that resembled the circ de soleil. Lights flashed on and off. Smoke poured out from all sides. Folks dressed in black tights came spiraling down thick cloth ropes, while the pastor rode in on his Harley, the circus-like music in a crescendo to announce his arrival.

To ease the pain of rejection, we are tempted to soften the seriousness of sin. We have deluded ourselves about how ugly sin really is. That way, some of us think, people will be more comfortable in our churches. There should be such a sense of holiness when we gather, that sinners either get right or run out the door.

Other times we simply leave off the truth about sin and simply preach the good part of the good news. Remember: in the case of the gospel, there is no good news without bad news.

Do not be surprised if people reject the gospel. Acceptance by everyone would be desirable. But, sadly, far more will choose to reject the Lord Jesus. Just keep sharing the gospel and rejoice over the fruit God gives you.

Pray for Asia

First it was Myanmar. We don't hear much about it anymore, but the death toll is tens of thousands; the homeless will suffer for months to come.

Then it was China. The death toll, according to most news agencies, has rolled past 65 thousand. New dangers lurk. One village is being evacuated because of cracks in the dam on nearby reservoir. Due to the "one-child-per-family" rule, many families lost their only child. Their anguish is beyond my comprehension. The government has granted permission to those parents have another child.

We can help. Obviously, there are organizations that we can contribute through. If you want to be the greatest help for these devastated areas, then make it a matter of regular prayer. Intercede. Our God is well able to open doors for us that even our physical aid will never open.

Pray. Pray some more. And pray hard.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Signs are important. Some are not, to be sure; but most signs are very important. The message is there for a reason. Take traffic signs; they guide us in our high-speed journeys across the roads we traverse.

One man and his friend discovered a recently-collapsed bridge on a country road. So they made a sign and held it up for passersby to see. After the third car crashed into the creek below, one man looked at the other and asked, "Do you think we should change the message of our sign to "Bridge Out Ahead?"

I want to warn you of a bridge that is out. It's a new website called "" I have not read the content of that sign. But I did read about the owners: Penthouse Magazine.

I am stunned and sick to think that the porn industry feels comfortable enough to create a website aimed at Christians.

That bridge is out, folks. Here's my sign: Beware! Danger ahead!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Am I an Evangelical?

Ed Stetzer placed a link to a letter written by Dr. Ergun Caner, President and Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School. The article in question is regarding Caner's dislike for the newest attempt to muddy the philosophical waters of evangelicalism.

The new strands of this rope called "evangelicalism" cause me to ask if I am still an evangelical. Those strands include everything from being a "green evangelical" to people who call themselves evangelical, but no longer believe salvation through Jesus is a unique thing. I am so tired of the green machine dribbling out its poisonous lies, I may well write a separate blog about that. For now, let's talk about Jesus and this tent called "evangelicalism."

First, the stakes that hold the tent of evangelicalism are fixed and easy to spot; consider this description from Barna:

"'Evangelicals' meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today."

Second, to be sure, the fabric of the evangelical tent is multi-faceted. No one denomination has a monopoly on evangelicalism. That being said, however, it does not mean the tent is so broad as to accept anything that comes along. Does that sound offensive? Consider it carefully; if your church were to accept just any old preacher that came along, could you trust him? What if he changed the meaning of familiar words, such as "born again?"

That is what is happening. There are those who call themselves born-again evangelicals, but who do not believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved. When asked if Muslims would be in heaven, one prominent so-called evangelical preacher recently quoted Jesus' statement that he has other sheep in the fold that his hearers did not know about (John 10:16). As is true with too many others, this man does not believe in the unique nature of salvation through Jesus Christ. He is a false evangelical--a false prophet, if you will.

What is the fear that is generating the attempted change in evangelicalism? Why are we now afraid that we will be offensive? The truth is simple: the gospel is offensive to some. To soft-pedal it is mighty close to being ashamed of it (a·shamed adj.
1. Feeling shame or guilt
2. Feeling inferior, inadequate, or embarrassed
3. Reluctant through fear of humiliation or shame).

I am an evangelical. I am not ashamed to say it. Unless the apostates take over the evangelical family. Then I will call myself something else.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Times and the Seasons

First, it was Myanmar (Burma). Now it's China. Before this is over, I would not be surprised to see a death toll in both places that tops 100,000. That is astounding. Every death brings a deep sadness and lingering questions:
  • How many of these who died knew the Lord and are now in his presence?
  • Jesus told us to observe the times and the seasons. Is this an indication of his imminent return?

I cannot venture to say how many who died knew the Lord. I do know that each day thousands in China are turning to the Lord Jesus as their one and only Savior. But I do not know about the particular areas that were affected. Far less, however, are responding in Myanmar. That means that the likelihood was slim that many of them were Christ-followers.

Is it a sign of the return of Jesus? Maybe. Maybe not. I believe that will happen sooner, not later. I even hope it happens today. But if the Father chooses to delay Jesus' return, that is fine by me. I will serve him until he sounds that final trumpet.

Pray for Asia, as it recovers from these two massive disasters.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pray for Myanmar (Burma)

Fox News reports 22 thousand deaths and over 40 thousand missing after the massive cyclone ravaged that country.

Pray that Christian missionaries will find opportunities to minister to the glory of God.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Those Weakening Hands

Here is a piece of news that Southern Baptists did not want to hear: membership and baptisms have declined. While IMB missionaries are reporting increases in overseas membership and baptisms, the churches holding the proverbial ropes are weakening. So what's happening?

Why is this taking place now? One site quotes expert Ed Stetzer, also providing a link to Stetzer's own site. Stetzer gives three issues that must be discussed to address this historic and unprecedented decline for Southern Baptists:

  • The absence of young leaders and ethnic leaders in denominational life.
  • Denominational infighting.
  • (most importantly) We’ve lost our focus on the gospel.

Add to Stetzer's opinion other important factors such as:

  • Our love affair with American culture
  • Undisciplined churches
  • (most importantly for me) a growing indication of prayerlessness

When you work in a group with so many members (over 16 million) it becomes very easy to rest on those historic laurels. We have gotten large and lethargic. Large is good; lethargy is deadly.

Why is this significant to someone working in South America? Consider the following:

  1. Our future international missionaries come from this declining pool.
  2. Lethargy eventually reveals itself in lethargic missions support; this is not just financial in nature. We are currently blessed with a surge in personal participation on the part of SBC churches. But this will not continue if those churches are losing the battle "back home."
  3. Denominational infighting creates such a lack of focus that important things as winning lost America and reaching a lost world fall in the cracks.

Pray for the SBC. Pray, pray, pray for revival.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Call

I just returned from St. Louis, MO. It was a great week (the better part of a week) of ministry. The best part for me was being able to be with a couple who were just appointed to serve in Peru. They were refreshing to listen to. Their exhuberance was delightful to see. Their faith is strong and their vision, stronger. It was a meaningful time for me.

The most meaningful part was when the associate pastor for missions asked me to pray a blessing over them in the final service of this global missions celebration. As I thought of where they would walk--a part of the world where I have also been--I was moved with joy. I wept as I sought the face of our Father in Heaven. The other missionaries with us wept, too. The joy was too much to contain.

Somewhere, years ago, God began a work in the hearts of this couple. Before too many years passed, God began convicting them of a call to go--a call to be more than they were at that moment. So they obeyed. And now the journey begins.

Pray for this couple and 90 others who were recently appointed as missionaries who will serve around the world.

Warning! Bridge Out Ahead!

I wrote some weeks ago about a renewed emphasis on New Age doctrine, this time being preached by Oprah Winfrey. Lest you discount this as harmless, please watch the following video.

For those who may think that Oprah's new love affair with Hell is cute, please beware; the bridge is out! You will not make it across....

Monday, April 07, 2008

Finding a Vision

I blinked and two weeks flew by. Time never stands still--at least not for a 50-something.

God let me go back to South America to lead a good group of men on a vision trip. They will adopt a part of Lima and begin sending teams down every few months. This partnership will, Lord willing, last up to 5 years.

I was both amused and impressed as I watched this group of men. I was amused at their reaction to our traffic. One man exclaimed, "I will never complain about traffic in Memphis again!" Others were far too busy praying for me, their driver. Even our Peruvian guest in the vehicle--himself a taxi driver--muttered, "Now I know what it feels like to ride in the back seat of my taxi." I guess I have become acclimated to driving in the big city. One thing is certain, those men learned how to pray!

I was impressed by their zeal for the lost. We did not do any persuasion evangelism; it was a vision trip. Some of you more spiritual readers may think we were unspiritual because we did not do any evangelism on this trip. But the men with me caught the same burden that wrenches my heart each time I enter a new community. We were overwhelmed by the lostness of Lima.

Once we went back to our rooms to have a prayer meeting; it was the middle of the day and we were completely overloaded with information about our task. I listened to the men as they begged me to make it easier and tell them where to work. I told them I could not do that; they had to find out where God was at work and join him there. So we prayed. They wept aloud over the task at hand. And God answered.

The pastor told me that he could not close his eyes without seeing one particular area I had taken them. There are literally hundreds, in the thousands, who live in that area who need the gospel. I asked them to pray for that part of the city before we moved on. We stood on a steep hillside and prayed for God's purpose and plans to unfold.

As though God had ordered our steps for that specific moment (I believe he had), one of our lay workers strolled up as we were about to leave. He told us the most recent strategic plans for the area. It was a confirmation, to the word, about what I had shared. Each way the pastor turned, there he saw the lost masses calling out to him.

It's all about finding a vision. These men traveled 3,200 miles with that express intent.

I believe God blessed them with a fresh one...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

March Madness of a Different Kind

It's March Madness. I am watching two very good teams face off in round two of the NCAA tournament. It's been fun so far.

Right in the middle of this excellent distraction the television network broadcasting the games put in a promo of their Sunday night show. It will be about the ossuary (bone box) that someone claimed belonged to Jesus and his family. It's March Madness on a spiritual level.

I am not terribly surprised that someone wants to bring this up once again. But I am terribly surprised they would do it with such impunity on Resurrection Day.

The world despised the truth of Jesus some 2,000 years ago; little has changed since then. But to challenge the resurrection on the holiest day for Christians? That is too much. They would insist on reverence for teachings about the Feast of Purim, or Passover, or Ramadan; but not for Resurrection Day. While they shriek over the idea of the intolerance of conservative Christians, they insist on the right to lambast Christians. Why?

Jesus said it would be that way. The world hates him. The world hates the idea of one way to heaven. The world hates the exclusivity of the Lord Jesus. And if they hate Jesus they will hate us; that is what Jesus said.

Do not forget this: Jesus is THE way; no one comes to the Father but by him. Eternal life does not exist outside of the salvation Jesus offers.

Let them parade the bone box. Let them claim it belongs to Jesus. They only join themselves to a select group who knew the Jesus had risen from the dead, who knew about the empty tomb and heard the report from the soldiers, but chose to reject his lordship all the same.

Just go right on proclaiming the truth: Jesus died for our sins; he was buried; and he rose again, all according to the Scriptures.

He lives!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Changing Face of South America

I just read an interesting blog that speaks of the changing face of South America. It is "penned" by Dr. David Sills, a professor at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. Dr. Sills spent time in South America as a missionary, but continues to make annual forays into that great and lost continent. Read his blog here; it will give you one more reason to pray for revival in our hemisphere.

KDS, Somewhere in South[ern] America

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our Addiction to Automation

Do you think things are better here? A local believer where we serve told me he wanted to come to the U.S. because everything here is better. Granted, there are many, many things that make life in these United States a delightful and desireable place to live.

Those desireable things sometimes create unrealistic dependencies. Take the automated car wash, for example. I could get out there with a hose and bucket of water, as I did in years (ahem, decades) gone by, and wash the heavy spring pollen off our car. After all, even a 14-year-old car needs lots of TLC. And the pollen was an embarrassment to me when I drove down the road. My blue car was yellow-green; even the windshield. It happened from one day to the next--literally.

Yes, I could have washed that car the old-fashioned way. But I wanted to use the automatic car wash. In our city in South America, automated means the dude washing it uses a high-pressure hose to rinse it.

So I went to the gas station where our daughter got hers washed. I bought gas first, another automated feature included for payment. At the pump I was offered a car wash. I selected the best; nothing but the best for this Baby Blue '94 Lincoln. I purchased the gasoline and car wash, filled the car, and drove around to the entrance. There sat a sign: "Out of Order." Great. I went back around front and asked for a refund. The lady told me she could not issue a refund, to go to their other store, less than 1/4 mile from this one.

I drove over there and tried to enter the code. Code rejected. I went in to speak to the manager. He said he would have to issue another code. The attendant told him that their car wash was also out of order. So he reluctantly refunded my money.

By now I was determined to get a car wash. I drove to another station that had a car wash. I drove to the entrance and proceeded to feed my bills into the machine. The machine rejected my 5-dollar-bill. I selected a wash of lesser value and fed ones into the machine. It rejected the last bill, but I rescued the thing with 4 quarters.

Now I finally entered to get the much-needed car wash. The truth is, by now, I needed a good soaking, too. The fancy, automatic machine rolled backwards to soak the car; it stopped after 4 feet and rolled forward. It was broken. The best I got was a quick rinse. No wax. No pre-soak. None of the things I paid for.

I was flabbergasted. All the fancy things we can do, such as post blogs and control our entire house from one computer. And I could not get a decent car wash.

It showed me my dependence and delirium.

Life should be simple and fun. It's good. Enjoy the ride.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Overt Attacks on America's Families

This post is rated "R" for raunchy and ridiculous. It contains a link to an "X" posting, so reader beware.

America is being attacked. The pro-homosexual movement continues to grow in both scope and intensity. No longer is it enough to endure such perverted characters as found in "Will and Grace," along with Ellen "Degenerate," and 75, or so, other perverts that pepper our television shows; now our teens are being attacked in their schools.

One such attack is taking place in Deerfield, IL. You can read about it here. As I said, that link leads you to a posting that no one under 17--if not 77--should read. It is very disturbing. English students in Deerfield High School are being required to read homosexual porn. I read some of the excerpts myself, so this is not even close to an over-reaction or exaggeration. I have written those listed in that blog to express my disdain for their sick actions.

Another attack is around the corner. It is called "The Day of Silence." The following was e mailed to me; I researched it and found the sender to be accurate on all counts.

[begin pasted e mail]
"Day of Silence," keep your child at home April 25.

Is a Day of Silence coming to a school near you? Friday, April 25, several thousand schools across the nation will be observing "Day of Silence (DOS)." DOS is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools

A Day of Silence and It's "Sexual Deviate" promoters leads the students to believe that every person who identifies as a homosexual, bisexual or cross-dresser is a victim of ongoing, unrelenting harassment and hate. Students are taught that homosexuality is a worthy lifestyle, homosexuality has few or no risks, and individuals are born homosexual and cannot change. Those who oppose such teaching are characterized as ignorant and hateful bigots. You should know that these sexual deviate groups do not and cannot exclude the pedophiles from their membership. In fact the more these sexual deviate groups get a foothold the better is it for the pedophiles. After all, who doesn't love kids?

There is simply no place in our school systems for this kind of "education". Yet, it's difficult to stop as long as the School Boards continue to approve such actions. I seem to recall this idea started in San Francisco several months ago and the local community tried unsuccessfully to stop it. These groups are well organized and financed by Corporate America. One of the largest donors is Proctor & Gamble. You know the company you buy from for your family needs. Another large supporter is Ford Motor Company. Ford has been falling in sales for the past couple of years due in part from the boycott initiated by the American Family Association (AFA). The falling economy has also had a drastic effect on their sales. Oh yes I almost forgot. Jaguar donates $1,000 for every car they sell to a sexual deviate group called GLADD.

Your school, or a school near you may or may not be on their list yet (see the list of Schools) but these sexual deviate groups have time to twist some arms. Why do these School Boards give into such pressure? Simple!! They are well funded. They have deep pockets and seemly a never ending source of funds to hire the best promotional agencies that money can buy. I cannot defend a School Board member that votes yes to them. I can only say they don't want to be called a bigot in the media. If they vote No on this issue . . . they are blasted in the local media. And, these sexual deviate groups are so experienced and practiced that they have a canned answer to your every objection. So it isn't easy.

Will they stop after conducting their classes in the High Schools across this Nation? Why stop when they are being so successful? Next, the grade schools. Here is a partial list of participating schools.

Is the guy who gets in on with a sheep a pedophile? He is a pervert for sure, but a pedophile? I guess that depends on if it's a "young" sheep. Better a sheep than your child or grandchild.

[end pasted e mail]

And finally, don't forget the California Appeals Court who has decided that at least 166 thousand families in California are wrong for home-schooling their children. That is nothing more than a new attempt to be able to control your child. You, the parent, are too stupid to know what is best for your child; they, the state, are the ones with the knowledge to make your child productive and suitable for society.

Stand up, America! Pray, friends around the world! This is a cultural war that must not be lost.