A question I would pose to anyone in the arena of evolutionary biology or anthropology regards whether man has truly become a more morally cleansed and perfected person over thousands of years. With the advent of the modern computer, instant news, and information you would assume that man has harnessed the morally imperfect part of his character and sent society toward utopia, but ironically what I am seeing is just the opposite! Spending a number of years in a police uniform sent me to scenarios that would break your heart and even question the very existence of God. I witnessed what appeared to be the darkest part of man’s heart overshadowing any possible good that may have existed. Murder, child abuse, Spouse abuse, and disorder seemed to rise to the surface of what I saw each day. It sometimes made my job feel purposeless when I felt I could not cause change to occur.
I recently read a book written by Filip Mueller who wrote of his experiences being a holocaust survivor at Auschwitz. The stories and experiences were so intense and graphic it made it difficult to read more than a few pages at a time. It made me think that if man has evolved into something better over time, then explain to me why the atrocities of the Assyrian Empire in the Bible almost pale in comparison to the Holocaust of World War II which occurred 2700 years later. We are more technologically advanced than any time in world history, and yet we seem to be just as, if not more morally destitute at the same time. Man seems to continue to want to look for “living” moral answers” to life in “non-living” technology and gadgets.
The truth is man hasn’t evolved at all, but has the same heart he has always ;possessed from the fall of Adam. The Bible says that “the heart of man is wicked and deceitful above all things and cannot be tamed!” (Jer 17:9) There is no sudden revelation here, but the cold hard truth is that man has no heart’s desire to be good as long as he thinks he is the answer to all of his problems. This is why the apostle Paul said that “all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. “(Rom 3:23) So all of this begs the simple question of whether or not man will ever become better?
The simple truth is I cannot speak in generalities to man, but I can speak to you. You can become something better, and the good news is that it does not require your own log of efforts, but your cry for help to the God who made you! It starts with a simple plea to confess Jesus as more than a good man. You must confess Him as Lord and Savior and believe in your heart of his death, burial and resurrection. (Rom 10:9) In other word it’s underplaying your own goodness and allowing God to transform your heart into a forgiven and cleansed dwelling. Only He can give your heart the desires it should have.
If you are a struggling Christian today in need of some encouragement I have a scripture to leave you with. You can do it with God’s help! Just pack lite as instructed below,
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”(Mark 8:34-35)
According to the Census Bureau our current U.S. population is 313,981,108. We are a historically blessed nation of abundance and opportunity. In this nation a person has the opportunity to pursue an almost unlimited array of endeavors without fear of government reprisal or harassment. These freedoms include working where you choose, as well as running a business based on the principles of one’s choosing as long as doing so does not bring harm to the worker. A person can even choose to leave a company if they disagree with the principles the company operates upon if they desire to be among people who are more like-minded in beliefs. In other words, a company that has operated under a set of principles since it’s origin, doesn’t necessarily have to trash it’s principles the moment a person or organization cries fowl.
President of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, has chosen to operate the family corporation without apology on biblical principles. In a Chick-Fil-A Facebook post it states, “The president of Chick-fil-A said his company is “guilty as charged” when it comes to supporting traditional marriage and warned that gay marriage is “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.”
As outlandish as this statement may appear, the President of Chick-Fil-A has chosen to stick to his principles in the light of media scrutiny that is attempting to portray the Gay agenda as some sort of mainstream philosophy.
The liberally biased media and the gay agenda has entered into the doors of Chick-Fil-A in an attempt to forcibly impose their lifestyle choices on a company that has always operated on biblical principles.
Charles Joughlin Identifies the Term Mainstream as 3.8% of the Population
According to the Williams Institute the gay population of the nation is 9 million (3.8%). In fact only 1.7% of that number consider themselves to be gay or lesbian. Although I consider homosexuality a sin (Lev 18:22; Rom 1:18-32), I leave it up to each person to have their opinion whether biblical or self-deduced. My desire may be to see each person come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but I accept the free will of man and woman to choose the course of their life.
In the case of Joughlin’s assertion, just because the liberal media determines that companies must bow to 3.8% of the entire U.S. population does not mean that it’s a mainstream philosophy. Last time I checked you need a majority to be in the mainstream and just because corporations nationwide have chosen to cave in to a few, does not make Chick-Fil-A a narrow-minded or bigoted corporation. If he is so certain that Dan Cathy is going against the mainstream, then put this issue on a national ballot and see what happens. Of course, this will never happen because in truth, the mainstream believe in traditional families.
Recent Polls Tolerate Gay Marriage
In a 2011CNN Poll it is one of the latest to show a shift of Americans in favor of same-sex marriage, with 51 percent saying that marriages between gay and lesbian couples “should be recognized by the law as valid” and 47 percent opposed. In tracking the polls, this shift has occurred in this millennium, and it is one Christians should see as an urgent alarm!
Has our country become so unglued from biblical principles, that we are compromising our values and opinions for the sake of not appearing intolerant?
The Choice of Homosexuality
I actually have a number of friends who are openly gay, and we agree to disagree on lifestyles. Those that I know who live together are not living in the framework of a true marriage, but have chosen to commit their life to a choice they have made to pursue affections that will never ultimately satisfy them. In fact all the natural physical and emotional experiences associated with a genuine marriage cannot be duplicated in a gay lifestyle. This is why it becomes necessary to do more than solicit for acceptance of the lifestyle of homosexuality, but to force it through regulation and liberal media pressure. There will never be a mainstream consensus in support of the gay lifestyle because it serves in no way to support a strong and healthy society. What this means is that people have the choice to be gay, but the masses do not have to embrace it. People can be given mutual love and respect without condoning and approving of their lifestyle.
Dan Cathy has Entered into the Political Arena?
A person supporting the homosexual agenda can call a Christian with convictions a bigot, homophobic, discriminatory, and many other terms, but is this really the truth? Chick-Fil-A has been a company based upon biblical principles from day one! They have publicly supported the causes and organizations they consider to be operating under like-minded principles, and have done so without apology. He supports his convictions that point to the need to strengthen and affirm the traditional family as being husband and wife. His statements to the Baptist Press were nothing more than a man sharing biblical convictions straight from the heart. As a marriage and family writer, I praise Dan’s boldness, and integrity. He didn’t see the need to throw out a test balloon, but simply went to the same document that the company has adhered to from day one. The Bible.
Homosexuality is One Sin Among Many in the Bible
Even in his statements on homosexuality he has not invited God’s wrath on people or asked for radical activism. He simply stated the patterns and words seen throughout the Bible on the end result of homosexuality. We see God’s view of it as being a sin that falls in the same category with pride (Prov 16:18), lying (Ex 20:16), gossiping (1 Tim 5:13), arrogance (Prov 8:13), un-forgiveness (Eph 4:32).
How Should Christians Respond?
Even in the light of the media-generated controversy, never forget that we are all sinners each battling with different areas of weakness in our daily lives (Rom 3:23). Just as Christian and non-Christian homosexuals battle and succumb to their sin, Christians have the same daily battle that they have a choice to either allow defeat to enter, or to strive to be what Christ requires of them, outlined in scriptures.
What do You Think about Chick-Fil-A and their position? All opinions will be welcomed, and I encourage everyone to show respect to comments posted. Let’s discuss it!
Is there anything in your life that makes the hours pass like minutes and the weeks pass like days? Is there anything in your life wasting your time to the point it does not feed a starving soul or fill the hearts of our spouses or children? Yes, is there anything that is in your life that leaves you empty, selfish, irritable, and feeling like you truly don’t understand your purpose in this life? There are numerous examples of what it could be. For some it may be Facebook and the virtual world of additional apps and games. For others it may be a sports hobby or even an inside hobby that steals your every waking thought and moment. For the workaholic it could be the unquenchable desire for business success.
If any of these depictions ring true, I can guarantee you the one person who is not first in your life if you claim to be a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Many people have pushed away from their faith in Jesus at times in their lives for many reasons and when this occurs there will always be something that comes into our lives to fill the void. What started out as a harmless hobby can easily become an unquenchable life-sucking obsession that impacts everyone in our life. It is described in scripture by saying that what we invite into our life that takes a priority seat, will control our every desire. (Rom 6:12) Before you know it you are talking to your spouse through the filter of a lawyer and your kids become synonymous with the term “custody” or “weekend visits”. All because of that “Anything in your life” problem you refused to acknowledge.
Whether you are a son, daughter, wife or husband, what would your family say about you? What is the “anything in your life” obsession or addiction that has driven a wedge between you and your family, and most importantly what has walled the relationship you once had with Jesus Christ? I can tell you from experience that a hobby or computer game can leave you feeling pretty lifeless and empty because you will wake up one day to realize that the only person whoever cared about the progress you made in your endeavors was you! I challenge anyone to consider these words whether you are aware of your issue or in total denial. I further ask that the one relationship you restore before any others is the one with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you will do this I can once again guarantee you that every single relationship in your life will be restored from your sincere and genuine efforts. It may not be overnight, but anyone who has been in your shoes understands it never happens overnight. Sanctification takes a slow, long, and deliberate lifetime.
I leave you with the following scripture to help you get started without delay today! “Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt 16:24)
It has been an incredible week in Orlando as we promoted my book “Marriage Triage“. It as given me time to compare and take notes from some of the most gifted authors in the Christian community through the use of spotlight promotions and exclusive book signings. Authors such as Lysa TerkHeurst, and Oxford professors such as OS Guinness were in attendance. I even got to be around Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, and actors such as Roma Downey, and Corbin Bernsen. My kids favorite song in the world is “My God’s Not Dead”, and I had a chance to see the Newsboys live at a small scale concert just for show attendees.
All of this adds up to “bucket list” material, and yet I would constantly catch myself staring into nothingness and wishing for something so simple, and so elementary. Even at the moment that I am writing this article I am 30,000 feet in the sky surrounded by beautiful cloud formations and landscapes that just scream of the greatness of God, and I cannot focus for more than a moment from this feeling of longing that comes over me. It’s the very thing that I can be critical with others over if I am not careful, almost shaming them for not wanting to get out of their comfort zone. What one thing could distract me at such moments when I am away from home, and in the presence of famous people and unlimited opportunities? The answer is that I am homesick.
I love my wife April, and our children, Savannah and Noah. As busy as I may be, it is my desire to spend time with them and be there for all their special life events. I get frustrated that I cannot spend more unfettered time at home and I dream of my family being able to travel and enjoy these life happenings with me. I don’t want to miss a single moment of their life, and yet my words don’t always match my actions. Even as a Christian marriage and family author I sometimes struggle with spending time with family even when I am in their very presence. Distractions such as electronics, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media can interfere and begin to take hold of precious moments they deserve.
Homesick for God
In our Christian walk, how many times do we get that homesick feeling to be in God’s presence? I know what some may say in the form of hollow cliches, but at the heart of your relationship with Christ, what are your actions showing? Are you paying lip-service to what should be an overriding need in every part of your life. Let’s face it! Jesus Christ is the only sole love of your life who will never look at you one day and say, “You are just too needy!” Jesus desires to have our craving and neediness because it points to a commitment you made to Him when you surrendered your life to Christ.
Now. Back to the times you feel homesick. The next time you are at a great and wonderful, “once in a lifetime”, “may never have another chance”, location or event I want you to do something. I want you to intentionally pause and begin to think about all that Christ has done for you, and how worthy He is of your life. Pray that God would give you a longing to be in God’s presence that would pre-occupy you even in those bucket list moments. Let it then cascade to your family and all the things that should be a priority in your life.
May God give us all the attitude of the Apostle Paul when he said,
But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again. (Philippians 1:23-26 ASV)
James is a favorite New Testament Book of mine. When I was a teenager my mother would make me read the entire book of James when I back-talked her, so by the age of 14 I was a little familiar with it.
James is addressing his letter to Jewish Christians scattered outside of Palestine because of persecution and induced dispersion in most cases. These Jews must have been disillusioned and even disheartened and tired. They stood up for their faith! They were faithful to Christ at the risk of losing family ties and friends! Security through their trade was found in their home city(s) along with a sense of oneness and purpose. So why is it they had to flee from their homes out of fear of persecution and death? Wasn’t following Jesus supposed to be a bed of roses? Who is this person to tell us how great it is to be experiencing trials? Not only that, he didn’t put a clause in there telling us if we send him money we would be blessed with prosperity! I am hyperbolizing on this point for effect, but I believe it explains my point.
James is addressing the Diaspora which would refer to people who have been scattered from their ancestral roots. I even like how the New World Encyclopedia says it better because it speaks of people forced or induced to leave. With all of this in mind he is now telling the Diaspora to count it all joy? Not only that James tells them it’s coming, not if, but it is coming! The pep-talk is to rejoice because you will suffer regardless of your faithfulness.
What do you need to rejoice about today in the midst of your suffering? It should not be by surprise this moment would come because even James told us that it was a case of “when”, and it was never “if”. Hang in there and rejoice while God will reveal his purpose in His time.
I think we sometimes need to imagine from a spiritual aspect what our children would be like if they took on all of our traits and daily life habits. I hope it would make us begin to be more concerned and aware of our own daily choices, and decisions. Are we honoring Christ throughout the day or catering to our own selfish desires and habits? And just so you know, this is already happening whether you want to admit it or not.
My level of hurt and sympathy goes out to those who are not committed to Jesus Christ, even though they do not ask me for such sympathy. You cannot reason with a person who has been decieved to the point that the only reality they know is what they choose to create. It’s almost like living in a parallel universe where each situation they encounter can be addressed with a pragmatic and baseless approach without regard to right or wrong. When we take this approach we will always do what is best for ourselves without regard to those around us. We will almost always choose the path of least resistance, and challenge any belief that would be arrogant enough to claim exclusivity or a singular right answer.
The mindset I have just depicted is in the majority of those in our country today. Everyone is looking for what makes them feel good. Even their charitable giving is an act of self-gratification where they want to show and impress those around them on how generous they are. Their life isn’t driven from obedience and gratitude to a savior who desires their exclusive loyalty. You may wonder why I bothered to approach this subject when it seems I am just whipping up on non-believers, but that is not my aim. I really am burdened for such a short-sighted and instant-gratification mindset. Such a mindset is lost and living apart from Jesus Christ with no hope for the long-term future. I desire with my whole heart to change the mindset of the masses, but I came to realize long ago that I cannot. None of us can wave a magic wand or prayer that will instantly make the majoritive masses turn to Jesus Christ, but it does not excuse you from evangelizing and sharing Jesus Christ with those that live around you!
I battled with this for years until one day I realized that Christ didn’t want me preaching to the masses, but discipling, and encouraging the one. My sanctuary was never intended to be an auditorium filled with masses of people, but a single small office occupied by the one or two people who needed encouragement and Biblical guidance.
You may ask yourself why I wrote this note, and finally I will answer! Each of us has been called out of the masses to minister to the individuals “one on one.” You may be one who thinks that they cannot have an impact because you are a single light in a room of darkness at work or even in your family, but the Bible says you matter to God. In the book of II Kings Elijah thought he was the only Christian left in Israel and he wasn’t far from correct. There were probably no more than 7000 believers in the midst of millions, but it didn’t mean they mattered any less! Today I encourage each of you to go out there as a follower of Jesus Christ and be a light even when it appears that you are the only one choosing the “one way” as opposed to the broad-way! (John 14:6)
I have a topic for Christian husbands to ponder regarding the way they demonstrate how much they value their wife. According to Encarta, value is the worth, importance, or usefulness of something to somebody. To a scuba diver an oxygen tank may hold irreplaceable value. If you are a programmer then a computer may hold great value to your efforts, but what about a husband? A Biblically obedient husband understands that apart from his relationship with Christ that his wife is the most valuable treasure in his life! (Eph 5:25)
Recently I had the privilege of eating with one of my vendors so we could discuss some important business and negotiate some matters pertaining to our companies. Somehow the conversation shifted from work, to spiritual matters and we began to discuss the vendor’s marriage.
The conversation went into deep waters rather quickly as we began to discuss things about the vendor’s wife, family, and his hobbies. It turns out that the vendor was an avid golfer who enjoyed spending many hours away from home with his golf buddies at an average of 80 dollars a round. I asked him how long he had been married and he told me only two years with no kids. Something seemed to change in his countenance when we went from golf to marriage. I pried a little deeper and asked him what his wife enjoyed doing. The vendor said his wife was a school teacher who was immersed in her job in Charlotte, but he could not name one single thing his wife enjoyed doing in the form of an activity or hobby. I also noticed the perplexed expression on his face that I would dig into an area of his life that appeared to be lacking. In the course of 20 minutes we were able to uncover the fact that after two years of marriage his wife was anything, but a priority and that the influence of his in-laws and his own hobbies were creating mounting friction in the relationship. Not being able to let it go I asked one more question to stir the pot. “Do you see any issues with your scenario?” The expression I received was priceless and sad all rolled into one. There are some additional complexities in this relationship that I will not go into, but there is a high probability that this relationship is headed the wrong way. I can picture the husband staring clueless at an empty bed one day asking himself, “What went wrong?”
What husbands can learn from this is that we will know, study, and spend time with what we value. The husband in this situation read, studied, and immersed himself in the game of golf. He took lessons on improving his swing, invested in expensive clubs, and spent thousands of dollars on green fees so he could improve his game. He understood that his hobby took precision, practice and finesse. My question to everyone is what returns will the husband receive from all this effort? Will it make his wife draw close to him? Will the wife be instilled with a sense of her purpose and value to the husband? I could pile on here, but ultimately the only thing the husband will gain is a selfish sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that will hold no value when he leaves the parking lot of the golf course. Don’t get me wrong because I am not asking anyone to boycott golf. This illustration could apply to any hobby, but ultimately anything that a husband values more than his wife will have no appreciable return, in fact it will ultimately create a potential bail-out. A husband cannot honor God if he values stuff more than his wife.
Husbands I encourage you this week to spend time listening to, studying and learning what your wife desires, wants and enjoys. Understand that it is a lifetime pursuit that requires continuous study, adjustment, and practice. Love isn’t something we fall into like an open manhole, it’s something we learn new and fresh everyday! It’s not something we simply try out and throw away, but an active action we demonstrate to our wife moment by moment. It can become exciting and adventurous in ways you could never begin to imagine! Furthermore I encourage the husbands to give their wives more than one and two word answers to the things that are on their heart. Go deep with each other and show that you value and treasure your relationship with her. Do this by sincerely opening up your heart to her and valuing her opinions and desires. If you already have this kind of marriage I applaud your efforts and ask you to look for young couples you can encourage and mentor about their relationships. Most of all, I want to be sure that you place your wife second while placing God first. (Eph 5:25) Also remember that there will be moments in your relationship where all you may have is your obedience to God to get through a difficult trial or temptation.
In concluding let me direct you to a few useful scriptures to utilize in your marriages.
Submit to each other (Eph 5:22-24) Don’t live in constant Conflict (Matt 12:25) Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church because our relationships are to be a model of Christ’s relationship to us. (Ep 5:25) God’s design is for man not to be alone (Gen 2:18-25) Our marriages are to be intimate and fulfilling which Husband and Wife must promote and work toward (Gen 2:18, 24)
This article was written as a result of the tragic death of a Charlotte police officer who died as a result of an accident with a concussion grenade in February 2011. Read the Obituary As Christians we need to be able to view any tragedy through the eyes of our Christian worldview. I reflect upon Fred’s life and how we can use it to strengthen our own daily walk with Christ.
Finding Hope in Tragic Loss
It has been an emotionally draining day for all compassionate and caring people in Charlotte as CMPD Officer Fred Thornton was remembered in an emotional and well planned memorial service today. A dedicated officer less than two years away from retirement. Thousands in police departments across the state have been impacted by the accidental tragedy of an officer they never even carried on a casual conversation with, yet there seems to be some thin blue connection with them all. I have been pondering why this particular tragedy has impacted me personally when I am thirteen years removed from my police career in Greensboro. It’s not like I haven’t seen the death of close police officer friends before. I lost my best friend who was a police officer in Mooresville 20 years ago. In fact the only reason my friend went into police work is that he saw how much I enjoyed it. I remember attending Greensboro Officer Porter Robinson’s funeral while still serving there. So what is it about the death of Officer Thornton that has been so emotional for even me considering I never met him? Maybe it is because this story isn’t about the death of the young or even inexperienced officer, but a seasoned and decorated veteran who was only a short time away from receiving the benefits of his efforts.
Officer Thornton appears to have been the classic story of dedication, longevity, and training. A man who has stared death in the face, and repeatedly walked out of the debrief unscathed. Maybe the reason police officers across the state have been impacted by Officer Thornton’s death is that we all at some point and time have stared death in the face whether knowingly or unknowingly, and walked away unscathed. What has occurred this past few days is that many officers have been reflecting on moments when they weren’t the most careful in a situation. Times when they could have done a better search, or mindlessly walked into the “fatal funnel”, but for some reason, walked away unharmed. While we mourn the loss of a brother, we reflect and question why we have been given the gift of a second chance. You see, as many lives as Officer Thornton may have saved in his 28 years of dedicated and loyal service, there may be countless other lives he will save in the years to come as officer’s across the state tighten their belts, and re-focus on the importance of officer survival tactics in the daily performance of their duties. We are honoring a man who has saved lives both past, present, and future.
Another reason I believe this tragedy has left such a big imprint is that we all plan for the future as if we are guaranteed that it will be there waiting. It reminds me of a scripture in the book of James where it says,
“Now listen, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14)
This tragedy has shaken me to hug and re-hug my 3 and 7 year old, and let them know how much I love them. It has reminded me of the importance of not just planning for the future, but living in the now when it comes to family games, and flashlight hide and seek. It has re-enforced the insignificance of waxing the car when it comes to throwing the ball with my son. It has reminded me that it’s not about living tightly for the future, but living focused in the now. Looking for ways in the present to show my wife how much she is loved, and not making hollow tomorrow promises that may or may not be fulfilled.
For some that I know it may be looking less to things that give temporary satisfaction and seeing the importance of striving for eternal satisfaction. What about you? What newly revealed epiphany are you now aware of after such a difficult and grueling day of remembrance and loss? Will it really be the flowered gift that best remembers your fallen brother? Or will it be taking this tragedy, and making the necessary changes in your career and life to be the best that you can be. My personal prayer for each officer, and citizen alike is that you will see that there is only one way to be the best that you can be in all areas of your life. That area can only be initiated by seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said that he came to give us the only true way to live to the fullest in the here and now.
“A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest” (John 10:10)
My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with Officer Thornton’s family as they now adjust to a life without their loving husband and father. May the God of all peace bring comfort to each of you.
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I have a test for those claiming to be a Christian dad.
If there is no daily prayer with your children If there is no daily prayer with your wife If you don’t try and have a family Bible study regularly If Jesus isn’t spoken of naturally, regularly and intentionally If church is just a weekly optional obligation If there is no sense of oneness in your family Then what makes you any different than a non-believers home? Truth is there isn’t.
Read Ephesians 4:17-24 If you are one of those dads who do all these things I praise your efforts. Problems may still exists, but they seem so much smaller under the lens of intentional Christian living and striving.