A Total Political System Failure…Really?

lawrenceIn some ways, it’s excellent.

The presentation that Jennifer Lawrence delivers is devoid of outrageous outbursts or nonsensical chants that demonstrate the lack of substance that typically characterizes the progressive platform. In that regard, it’s a breath of fresh air and some of her content is genuinely inviting.

But after a while, one can’t help but wonder if this isn’t just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The message is, “The system is broke and the voter has no real say when it comes to the candidates the represent them and the policies that are put in place.”

First off, Jennifer has made her feelings where President Trump is concerned very clear. She’s no fan.

Secondly, the fact that the entire presentation is based on the idea that we are currently experiencing a “total political system failure” begs the question…

According to who?

It’s difficult not to assume that in light of “represent.us” being backed by a collection of individuals that are decidedly anti-Trump, the real message behind all of the rhetoric is that Trump is President because of a major breakdown in our democratic process and we need to fix it.

It’s bothersome to me that the Left cannot accept the fact that the Democrat party lost the election in 2016. It wasn’t stolen, it wasn’t bought, it was lost. And when the Dems were defeated, they lost their ability to choose what might amount to three Supreme Court justices, not to mention several Circuit Court judges. In addition, all of the socialist agenda put forth by President Obama under the guise of social justice is being undone and wound back in a way that works to our nation’s long term and short term benefit.

For example…

Henry Kissinger recently said that “President Trump is a phenomenon,” referring to his international policy. In addition, he remarked that “He has the potential to go down in history as a very considerable president.”

By signing an Executive Order that eliminated the tax penalty incurred by anyone refusing to engage in Obamacare, Trump removed the teeth from a financial beast that helped incur more debt that all of the presidents combined leading up to Barack Obama. In addition, he removed our country’s interest from the Paris Agreement, a treaty that appeared to be a wise co-op with other nations resolved to minimize carbon emissions into the atmosphere, yet accomplished very little while simultaneously costing American trillions of dollarsAnd then of course, there’s the fact that Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, initiated tax reform that put more money back into the wallets of American consumers and is currently presiding over an economy that is booming

And yet, Jennifer Lawrence says we are in the midst of a “total political system failure…”

While some may scratch their heads and wonder why Jennifer would think the way she does, I believe that it comes down to one thing:


As an aside, do this: Google this phrase, and use quotation marks (this makes Google look for that phrase specifically): “trump is attacked daily by the press.” You can see the results you get by looking at the screen shot above. Notice that every “hit” is a article about how Trump attacks the media and not how the media attacks Trump.

Progressives are supportive of due process and the Electoral College  provided those two dynamics deliver the result they’re looking for. In fact, you could say that about any one of a number of traditional institutions that are no longer evaluated according to their substance as much as they’re gauged according to their strategic utility in that moment. Provided they can be deployed in a way that reinforces the notion that the system is both flawed and limiting, they are held up as noble and enduring icons. But when things like moral absolutes and the rule of law produce a disposition that hesitates when it comes to abdicating the throne of your own potential to the forces and authority of the state, they are now labeled as unjust and antiquated.

It’s frustrating how things that should be common sense are now converted into these knots of subjective feelings, carefully crafted verbiage bogus conclusions that have no basis in truth.

We’re arguing whether or not there should be any border security. Not just if there should he some border security, but if there should be any at all.

And that’s just one example.

The fact that unemployment is lower than it’s been in five decades and the economy is booming doesn’t matter. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post, most people feel that more jobs and a strong economy benefits only those who are “rich.”

How does that work?

  • More than 5 million jobs have been created since President Trump’s election and the unemployment rate remains below 4 percent.
  • The unemployment rate for African Americans in May fell to 5.9 percent, which is the lowest rate on record.
  • Under President Trump, job openings outnumber the unemployed for the first time on record.1

I don’t care how you try to spin it. Trying to twist the reality of people being employed into something that only benefits those who are in positions of authority is ridiculous.

And then there’s tax reform.

Thanks to President Trump, most people saw an overall reduction in taxes in 2018 and this is confirmed by the Joint Tax Committee and the Tax Policy Center. But Kamela Harris was able to figure out a way to twist and stretch the truth to the point where she could justify a tweet that said, “The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the president’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1 percent.”

The Washington Post gave her four Pinocchios for her statement. She’s wrong. But why would you even want to be critical of something that is so obviously advantageous to the average American? And don’t try to spin things with how tax cuts benefit the rich. Of course they benefit the rich! In 2018, the top 20 percent of income earners paid 95.2 percent of individual income taxes in 2017. The top 10 percent paid 81 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.1 percent of taxes.2 If the country is given a 10% tax cut, if you make $10.00, that’s $1.00 savings. If you make $1.00, you get $.10. That’s not favoritism or inequity, that’s math.

Furthermore, as Tax Policy Center senior fellow Howard Gleckman said, “…stop obsessing about the size of your refund and pay attention to your total income tax bill.”

President Trump has knocked it out of the park on so many levels, it’s truly gratifying for anyone who cast their vote for him back in 2016.


We’re apparently dealing with a “total political system failure.”

What “represent.us” is championing is not all bad. There is corruption and there is a revolving door dynamic that exists in politics. Curbing those with intelligent legislation is more than appropriate. But part of their proposal includes “Ranked Choice Voting” which allows voters to rank their preferences rather than it be a scenario where you have one person – one vote. So instead of a candidate winning by the most votes, they win according to how they’re ranked. On the surface it may look intriguing, but there’s a mathematical anomaly at play that can be problematic. The Stanford News explains it this way:

First, the contender with the lowest number of first-choice votes is dropped from the competition. Each voter who had ranked that candidate as his No. 1 choice then has his vote given to whichever candidate he selected as his second choice. The votes are re-tallied and, as before, the contender with the lowest vote total is eliminated.

This process continues for as many rounds as needed until one candidate has over 50 percent of the votes tallied in a round, at which point he or she is declared the winner.

The bottom line is that with ranked-choice voting, you can get a winner who is the first choice of only a small percentage of voters. Given the fact that the chief proponents of this approach are democrats, it’s not difficult to think of it as an unconstitutional sleight of hand that allows for candidates like Hillary Clinton to win where the Electoral College would fail to produce a victory for her.

Another thing this proposal includes is the chance to register to vote automatically when you interact with a government agency. For example, the Department of Motor Vehicles. On the surface, this looks great until you realize that 13 states have legal provisions for illegal immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.  Should this proposal go through, you now have illegal immigrants in over 10% of our states casting a vote for our elected officials and they’re not even citizens.

Do you see where this is going?

Which party do illegal immigrants typically support? Given the fact that districts characterized by heavy population of foreign born residents are Democrat strongholds, that answer should be obvious.

Another point that Jennifer makes is that people are supposedly their respective parties in droves because of they’re not feeling like they have any real influence in who gets elected and who makes policy.

When you do a search for “How many people have left the Republican party”, you get a number of websites from Google that seem to confirm that idea with numerous headlines insisting that the GOP is shrinking in size and failing to appeal to millennials while simultaneously inspiring more cynicism on the part of those who are currently registered as Republicans.

But then when you look at the Gallup numbers, as of January 21, 2016 you had 29% Republicans, 39% Independents and 31% Democrats. In May of 2019, you have 30% Republicans, 38% Independents and 31% Democrats. There certainly isn’t a major shift, but if there’s any change it would be the fact that you have fewer Independents and more Republicans.

So much for people leaving their respective parties in “droves.”

And let’s not ignore the fact that 76% of all voters approved of Trump’s State of the Union address. Furthermore, his approval rating right now is 43%. Obama’s approval rating in June of his third year as President was 46%. Pretty comparable, but at the same time very significant given the fact that Trump has been assaulted and demonized virtually every day of his presidency since he took office.

Bottom line: Where there is corruption, that needs to be addressed and fixed. But this campaign isn’t so much about eliminating corruption as much as it’s about retooling the electoral process in a way that gives Democrat candidates a better chance of winning where they would otherwise fall short.

Thank you, Jennifer. You can sit down…

1. “The Historic Results of President Donald J. Trump’s First Two Years in Office”, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-historic-results-of-president-donald-j-trumps-first-two-years-in-office/, accessed June 21, 2019
2. “Kamala Harris leaps to unwarranted conclusions in tax tweet”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/02/13/kamala-harris-leaps-unwarranted-conclusions-tax-tweet/?utm_term=.afbbc494f2e4, accessed June 20, 2019


The dictionary defines “angst” as “a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.”

It’s common to feel “angst.” Even if it’s not a “deep anxiety or dread,” being worried or concerned is a part of the human experience.

But while it’s “normal,” it’s not necessarily healthy because, depending on what it is that you’re thinking about, it can be a real distraction and can even translate to some real problems that have nothing to do with whatever it is you’re worried about.

Jesus boxes the whole issue of “worry” into a neat, easy-to-understand, container by saying, “Do not worry…”

Initially, that looks kind of pointless and even a little irresponsible.

But He makes a great point.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:25-34)

“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”



“Worry” is a waste of mental and emotional capital. It’s not that you disregard those things that are important and have yet to resolve, leaving you feeling apprehensive. Instead, what you want to do is use those anxious thoughts as “prompts” to funnel all those concerns in a way where they land at the feet of your Heavenly Father.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)

This is more than just “spiritual therapy.” You’re not running, you’re not ignoring what’s at stake…

You’re simply being intentional about perceiving the situation for what it truly is and not all  that it “might” be.

And regardless of what it “is,” making a point of filtering it through the Reality of your Heavenly Father’s Power and Control, you’re able to remember that there’s a point to all of this, regardless of where your situation lands.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Ps 139:16)

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil 2:13 [see also Rom 8:28])

You smell that? That’s the aroma of a “plan.” There’s a “purpose” to all this and because your Heavenly Father is worthy of your trust and confidence, you can maintain a calm perspective and not be eaten up with an anxious mindset.

God’s in charge. And when you’re feeling like your grip on the Truth is slipping, then remember the last part of Paul’s letter to the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 7:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7)

The “peace of God” is distinct from the peace you feel when the situation makes sense or you’re looking at a guaranteed result. You’re not putting your confidence in a result, rather you’re putting your faith in God and that’s what makes all the difference.

So,  get rid of the “angst” by praying it out of your mind by remembering Who’s in charge rather than allowing yourself to be preoccupied with what may or may not happen. Focus on the One your orders your circumstances rather than focusing on the circumstances themselves.



The 90-Day Bible Study Guide | Answer Key

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Bruce Gust

The Media

To listen to “The Media” podcast, click here.

I) Intro: The Men of Issachar

In 1 Chronicles, 12:32, you have this:

from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command; (1 Chron 12:32)

Issachar has the ability to advise the nation of Israel on what it was that constituted the right course of action. You see this is Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

The men of Issachar were the fewest of all, only 200, and yet as serviceable to David’s interest as those that brought in the greatest numbers, these few being in effect the whole tribe. For, 1. They were men of great skill above any of their neighbours, men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. They understood the natural times, could discern the face of the sky, were weather-wise, could advise their neighbours in the proper times for ploughing, sowing reaping, etc. Or the ceremonial times, the times appointed for the solemn feasts; therefore they are said to call the people to the mountain (Deut 33 19), for almanacs were not then so common as now. Or, rather, the political times; they understood public affairs, the temper of the nation, and the tendencies of the present events. It is the periphrasis of statesmen that they know the times, Esth 1 13. Those of that tribe were greatly intent on public affairs, had good intelligence from abroad and made a good use of it. They knew what Israel ought to do: from their observation and experience they learned both their own and others’ duty and interest.1

This verse represents a Divine endorsement of being politically astute – to “understand the times” means that you are knowledgeable about those individuals and events that influence policy and determine the course of our nation.

You see this reiterated in the New Testament when it comes to praying for our leaders:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Tim 2:1-2)

You can’t effectively pray for your leaders unless you know who they are and the decisions they’re contemplating.

Some see Politics as an arena that falls short of a legitimate mission field because they see the Sovereign Will of God as being something that cannot be altered, either by voting or by prayer (Dan 2:21). Others see Politics as the ultimate manifestation of the gospel and in so doing, “…reduce the Christian faith from a pilgrim path to heaven into a socio-political scheme for the present world.”2

Neither extreme is healthy nor holy (Ecc 7:16-18). Rather, the “Christian Citizen” should engage current events as opportunities to serve others by championing those Truths that both point to God and benefit mankind.

J.I. Packer was a brilliant theologian who, in an article he wrote for “Christianity Today” in 1985 said:

Hence, although Christians are not to think of themselves as ever at home in this world but rather as sojourning aliens, travelers passing through a foreign land to the place where their treasures are stored awaiting their arrival (see 1 Peter 2:11; Matt. 6:19–20), Scripture forbids them to be indifferent to the benefits that flow from good government [see Prov 29:2; Matt 22:21; 2 Tim 2:1-2; 1 Pet 2:17]. Nor, therefore, should they hesitate to play their part in maximizing these benefits for others, as well as for themselves. The upholding of stable government by a law-abiding life, and helping it to fulfill its role by personal participation where this is possible, is as fitting for us today as it was for Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, Mordecai, and Daniel (to look no further). We must see it as service of God and neighbor.4

Bottom line: We have a responsibility to be involved and aware of what’s going on in Politics and in our culture.

But how do you become aware? Where can you go to learn who comprises the decision makers within our nation’s government and the issues that they’re contending with?

The media.

II) Many Advisors

Proverbs 15:22 says:

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Prov 15:22)

You need to have a plan for the way you vote, how you’re going to pay your bills and where you’re going to go on vacation.

You need a plan in order to determine how you’re going to think.

Yet, you don’t have a Top Secret clearance, you’re not a part of the Oval Office, you’re not directly privy to those things that can influence the way you process yourself and the world around you.

So, from that standpoint, you’re dependent on the media in order to formulate your plans and inform your convictions.

The problem is not every resource you have available to you is reliable.

John Norvell was a newspaper editor and one of the first Senators from Michigan. At one point he wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson asking him for his recommendations of what books and newspapers to read in order to acquire “sound political knowledge.”5

Jefferson responded by saying:

Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle… General facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great portion of Europe to his will, &c., &c.; but no details can be relied on. I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.6

Just because it’s a headline doesn’t mean it’s a bottom line.

Bear in mind that when we say, “the media” in this conversation, we’re not referring only to the Journalistic profession. “Media” refers to any kind of published information, however it might be packaged.

  • A punch line (Prov 26:18-19)
  • A movie script
  • A song lyric (Dt 33:19 [“…if a man were permitted to make all the ballads he need not care who should make the laws of a nation” {Andrew Fletcher}]7)
  • A headline
  • A novel

One thing you want to be aware of: While the above bullet list implies a collection of distinct mediums, the fact of the matter is many of the more well-known media brands are subsidiaries of a larger conglomerate.

In a WebFX article entitled, “The 6 Companies That Own (Almost) All Media,” 6 companies are listed that represent the bulk of what dictates the headlines, the punchlines, the hooks and the books that we consume every day.8

For example, “National Amusements” includes :

  • CBS
  • CMT
  • MTV
  • Paramount
  • Show Time
  • VH1
  • Viacom
  • Nickelodeon
  • Simon & Schuster
  • TV Guide

Disney owns:

  • ABC
  • LucasFilm
  • ESPN
  • A&E

Comcast, which is an internet service provider, owns NBC along with Universal Studios. NBC Universal own Capitol Music, Geffen Records and more.

TimeWarner owns CNN, TBS, Warner Brothers Entertainment…

Most of your major news sources answer to an umbrella company that includes any one of a number of mediums that cover both sports and entertainment.

In other words, however these companies want to portray what’s true, they can do it through a variety of media outlets that go beyond a mere commentator and a television camera.

You also have Social Media. New research shows that 71% of Americans get their news from Social Media platforms.9

You have access to “many advisors,” but how do you determine which one is worth listening to?

III) Test the Spirits

1 John 4:1-3 says:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 Jn 4:1-3)

While it’s tempting to process what John is saying as something that applies exclusively to the gospel, you want to remember what it says in Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)

You don’t want to lose sight of the spiritual realities that serve as the fuel and the foundation for the practical tensions that exist in our own lives as well as on the national and global stage.

It all comes down to a spiritual struggle. This isn’t just “media bias” and it’s more than the Surgeon General or the Electoral College. Yes, these are important topics and essential institutions, everything inevitably falls beneath the heading of a spiritual contest.

A “lie” is anything that’s not true. It’s the signature tactic of Satan himself (Jn 8:44). However a falsehood manifests itself, regardless of the subject matter or its severity, its source is a dynamic whose intent is to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10:10).

By subscribing to a lie, you place yourself on a path that, however incremental it may appear, adds weight to the load you’re having to carry as you navigate the challenges and questions that are a part of the human experience.

In time, that weight will prove lethal:

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. (Prov 1:31-33 [see also Ps 49:20; Prov 11:14; Hos 4:6)

This is why it’s important to “cross examine” those sources that purport to be telling the truth.

In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines. (Prov 18:17)

You want to test the spirits and not just accept things at face value. You do that by first asking how the source answers the questions, “Who’s in charge?”

A) Who’s In Charge?

This goes back to the core of 1 John 4:1-3. Does the source of your information has as its philosophical foundation an acknowledgement of the death and resurrection of Christ as a historical fact?

On the surface, that may seem a little far-fetched and perhaps a little over the top. How many companies do you know have a “Statement of Faith” included as part of their corporate mission statement?

But even if you’re not publicly acknowledging the empty tomb, you can still be on the right side of the issues if you’re willing to be used by God to disseminate the truth.

A good example of that is King Cyrus…

King Cyrus was the King of Babylon who gave the Jews permission to rebuild the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (Ezra 5:13; Is 45:13). Yet, King Cyrus was not a believer…

For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me here is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord and there is no other. (Is 45:4-6)

Put this in contemporary terms…

Would you have voted for Cyrus? According to the criteria that some use, the answer would be, “No.” But you have to remember that God can catch a fly ball with either a dirty mitt or a brand-new glove. The issue isn’t the condition of the mitt, but the skill of the Hand inside.

With Cyrus, you had someone who was used by God to accomplish the will of God and that’s the bottom line. However spiritually or morally bankrupt a person may be, you want to be mindful that if the presence of sin is a determining factor, that no one can be trusted to lead effectively or wisely.

Look for where God is working and support those who are being used by Him to do His bidding (Mk 9:40). Look to those media sources that, however “secular” they may appear, are nevertheless publishing information that is credible both in the sight of man and God.

When they report on those issues or feature op-ed pieces pertaining to the issues that dominate the headlines…

  • Are all sides of the issue addressed with the same amount of verbiage?
  • Does one side get treated with sympathy while the other side is viewed as cruel and uncaring?
  • Is there a subtle endorsement of an anti-biblical perspective?

That’s something to consider.

And remember too that you don’t have to lie to be guilty of not telling the whole truth.

Consider the following:

Pharisees Doubt The Resurrection of Christ

All of Israel is caught up in the rumors pertaining to the supposed resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, a religious and political criminal that was recently put to death. While some are insistent that he is, in fact, alive, there are many others who dismiss it as yet another attempt being made on the part of his followers to validate his claims that he was the Son of God. We sat down with several high-ranking officials, both from the Jewish and the Roman institutions that championed what was a very difficult, yet just, decision to get their thoughts.

From the very beginning, the Nazarene who referred to himself as the Son of God, was a problem in the way he incited many Jews to question the Law and their own heritage. His exploits weren’t curious as much as they were damaging, though many of those who heard him speak were unaware of just how toxic his perspective was. Thankfully there were steady and committed hands ready to prevent his corrosive effect from spreading by publicly questioning him and revealing his true colors.

“We challenged him,” said Simon, one of our more prominent Pharisees. “We demanded that he validate his testimony concerning himself and he wasn’t able to do it. (John 6)”

“His illegitimacy is no secret,” says Reuben, an associate of Simon and with him while they were questioning Jesus. “His mother was a disgrace and to see him now trying to assert himself as being equal to Jehovah is not only ludicrous, it’s almost sad to see someone so desperate to cover up the scandalous and unlawful aspects of his birth. (Mk 6:3)”

Clavius, a familiar tribune who serves Rome and has been an advocate for our Jewish traditions on many occasions, has no trouble being critical of Jesus.

“I remember a servant who lived in the household of one of my centurions who was deathly ill,” said Clavius. “He asked the Christ to come and heal his servant and this Jesus, who is supposedly compassionate, never even came to his home. I remember hearing that and from that moment forward, I was convinced that he was a problem and a fraud. (Matt 8:5-13)”

Atticus is yet another distinguished Roman, having served in the Roman army for two decades and a veteran of many conflicts. He was one of the guards who were stationed at the site of the Christ’s tomb (Matt 27:62-65).

“It’s insane!” he said. “I’ve been around death more than once.  Jesus died. He’s dead. It might make you sad, but that doesn’t change the fact He’s gone. And I know what it is to grieve, but to see this rabble refuse to accept the death of their cause and their champion by inventing this ridiculous story that he ‘rose from the grave’ is nothing more than a crazy effort to not accept the fact that your Christ is no more and you need to move on.”

When asked about the way in which the Pharisees were accusing the disciples of having stolen Christ’s body in order to give the appearance of Jesus having risen, Atticus said, “Your readers need to know that the disciples are lying! There is no resurrection. They broke the seal, they violated the sovereignty of Rome, they’re a stench among their own people…they’re insane! (Matt 28:11-15)”

Among those who insist that he rose is a former small business owner named Peter. As a fisherman, your fortunes are limited by default. Perhaps that’s why the prospect of becoming one of the Christ’s followers appealed to him to the point where he abandoned his craft and his family (Matt 8:14-181 Cor 9:5). Maybe in the context of aligning yourself with someone who challenges the governing authorities could lead to a more prominent and financially sound position. Whatever his motivation was, his resolve to promote the fantasy of a risen “Messiah” is still very much intact.

“I’ve seen him!” said Peter. “I’m ashamed to admit that during his arraignment and trial, I denied even knowing him – I was that determined to put as much distance between myself and my former teacher as possible (Matt 26:73-75).”

“But that all changed when I saw him,” Peter said. “He’s alive and I’ll stake my life on it (Acts 4:18-19).”

Peter’s passion is admirable, but does that passion negate the testimony of hundreds of eye witnesses let alone the sworn statements coming from established and reputable Roman officials and Jewish authorities?

“There is something both healthy and beneficial in retreating from emotionally charged declarations and instead cling to the certainty of one’s spiritual heritage,” said Simon. “We obey the political authorities that God has instituted and we revere the Law He gave to Moses. This is my stance and I hope it is one that our people will adopt as well.” (“Pharisees Doubt the Resurrection of Christ – An Example of Fake News”)

At no time does this article “lie.” There’s nothing inaccurate about what’s being said, but the words used to describe Peter as opposed to the Jewish and Roman authorities position his testimony as questionable. The majority of the article focuses on those who see the Resurrection as a hoax and while they do give some space to Peter’s perspective, the words they use to describe both him and his mindset are laced with cynicism and suspicion.

This is a great example of how you can be “honest” and at the same time manipulative.

You want to vet your sources by evaluating the way in which they maintain an impartial disposition with the words they use, the people they quote and even the images they display.

And should you encounter someone insisting that kind of perspective is a violation of church and state, you can respond by saying…

The Establishment Cause was not designed to limit Christianity’s influence on government, but to restrict government’s influence on Christianity. Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant.

Sixteen times Congress called for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting during the Revolutionary War.10 The Constitutional Convention met in 1787.  Among the first motions carried by the newly formed Congress in 1789 was a law to hire and pay chaplains for each house.11

We say, “So help me God” when we get ready to testify in court. We say “one nation, under God” when we pledge allegiance to the flag. It’s common for a public servant to place his or her hand on a Bible when they’re getting ready to be sworn into office.

Any resource you attempt to quote as a supposed indicator of our founding fathers having a secular approach to government is inevitably a comment taken out of context and is indicative of either a personal bias or an ignorance of history, neither of which constitute a credible perspective.

The Bible has been our “go to” resource for all things moral and spiritual for the last two centuries. The only ones who oppose it are those that are determined to be their own absolute and therefore need to pose as a victim of an intolerant society in order to avoid that line of questioning that reveals their disposition to be both selfish and absurd.

The issue of religion is not defined by the presence or the absence of a church steeple. As a member of the human race, you are “religious” by default in that in order for the human experience to have any meaning, the individual needs to determine for themselves what it is that constitutes the basis for their existence and the standard by which their moral behavior is measured. However you arrive at those absolutes determines your religious paradigm.

Whenever you hear someone be critical of “religion,” though it depends on the context of the conversation, more often than not they’re asserting themselves as their own deity. While they attempt to conceal the true nature of their viewpoint by suggesting that religion provides no real, logical explanation, given the supernatural dynamic that characterizes the origin of the universe etc. Fact is, the “science” they would assert as a more substantive answer is characterized by probability values that go beyond the boundaries of absurd.

What they cling to as an alternative way to explain how the universe came to be and the intangible intricacies of the human experience doesn’t quality as an explanation as much as it does an unwillingness to concede the reality of something greater than themselves.

When they speak of “reason” and “compassion,” they are invoking those characteristics according to however they define what is logical and benevolent. There is no standard apart from the one they’re comfortable with and in that regard, they are their own bottom line.

Those who are the most vocal in their argument for the separation of church and state are not looking to “separate” the church from the state as much as they are wanting to establish a new church where the principles coming from the pulpit are more in line with what they want to hear.

They decide what’s right, moral and just. There is no authority apart from the one they’re willing to acknowledge, but…

You can’t maintain that kind of perspective without extending the same kind of methodology to everyone else. And if everyone is their own absolute, then there is no right or wrong and your viewpoint is valid provided you’re surrounded by those who agree with you.

That’s why there’s such an emphasis on the Supreme Court and the Oval Office. You can manipulate these entities to a certain extent by the way you vote, but you can’t edit the Word of God.

But if you don’t yield to the Word of God, you are then basing your entire existence on a human agency which is destined to either die, quit or fail.

By eliminating God from your worldview, you reduce yourself to a lucky accident, the universe to a pointless mistake and every rule, given and absolute to a temporary coupon whose validity is determined by either the mood of the individual or the consensus of the culture.

You are not standing on solid ground and if the resources you refer to for your news is not grounded in something more than a receipt or a humanistic worldview, your new is not standing on solid ground and isn’t news promoting all that needs to be heard.

B) Sound Doctrine

“Doctrine” (didaskalia  [dih-dahs-kah-LEE-ah]) is just another word for “teaching.”12

It says in 2 Timothy 4:3:

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Tim 4:3)

Another way to determine the substance of the resources you’re looking at is to look for the presence of “Mickey Hood…”

Mickey Hood
M Mobs They spend more time talking about Labels, Mobs and Crowds than they do a Name, a Person and a Choice.
C Characters They spend more time assaulting their opponent’s character than they do discussing their opponent’s content.
H Hurt They spend more time pretending to be hurt than they do proving that they’re right.
H Honest They spend more time trying to sound honest rather than actually telling the truth.
D Decisions They spend more time defending bad decisions than they do applauding good choices.


Anytime you hear these tactics being deployed, you want to be aware that they are often used by people who don’t have something to say as much as they have something to hide.

For example, here are two different articles talking about the way in which illegal immigrants have been able to secure free turkey dinners at the expense of New York residents who depend on the charities that are now being consumed by those who’ve crossed the border illegally.

Displaced by war, persecution, violence, human rights abuses, poverty or the climate crisis, newcomers in recent years have fueled a massive migration movement to cities across the United States.

Some have been bussed up from Texas while others have arrived on their own, straining local resources in a city that under a local mandate must offer shelter to all.

While other American hubs have received a growing number of migrants, New York City has become the epicenter of the crisis. The number of newly arrived asylum-seekers since spring 2022 has surpassed 100,000, with costs for housing and other basic services projected to run up to $12 billion in the coming years.

Unprecedented migration in the Western Hemisphere has posed a steep challenge for the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden, at the US Southern border and in cities like New York, where asylum-seekers choose to go as their cases wend through US immigration courts, often for years.13

Compare that article to this one:

Some 125,000 illegal aliens have arrived in New York City in a little more than a year. Just a couple of weeks ago, a team of researchers from FAIR traveled to the Big Apple, where we witnessed illegal aliens at the Roosevelt Hotel receive free food in what used to be a restaurant open to the public.

Now, the migrant crisis is impacting the Thanksgiving holiday of one Queens neighborhood. New York City Housing Authority’s Queensbridge Houses residents look forward to weekly mobile food pantries, but over 8,000 migrants have moved in over the past year, straining the resources meant for New Yorkers…

Fox 5 New York says free food has become a source of tension between New Yorkers and newly arrived migrants who are now living off the system. Struggling Americans shouldn’t be put behind those who broke American immigration laws to get here, but that’s what continues to happen.14

Can you see how a message can be communicated without stating it verbatim?

This is why you want to engage in what one resource refers to as “Lateral Reading.”

Consider all of the relevant information as it’s presented by a variety of resources in order to guarantee a comprehensive portrait as opposed to a narrow minded thumbnail.

IV) Conclusion

While we’ve been talking about the importance of vetting your sources when it comes to the news and politics, the same thing can be said about the way you read and study God’s Word.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

You always want to ensure you’re basing your convictions on the whole of God’s Word and not just one verse that may or may not be unwittingly taken out of context.

This goes back to being a “worker…”

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)

So just like you want to be in a perpetual pursuit of the “whole story,” you also want to be grounded on the whole of God’s Word in order to ensure that you’re not just making an appearance, but you’re making a legitimate difference using His Power and His Truth.

  1. Matthew Henry Commentary on 1 Chronicles 12, Bible Study Tools, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-chronicles/12.html, accessed November 24, 2023
  2. “Christianity Today Institute”, “How To Recognize a Christian Citizen”, J.I. Packer, April 19, 1985, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1985/april-19/how-to-recognize-christian-citizen.html, accessed November 24, 2023
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid (additional Scripture references added)
  5. “Founders Online”, “To Thomas Jefferson from John Norvell, 9, May 1807”, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-5565, accessed November 24, 2023
  6. “Library of Congress”, “Image 2 of Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, June 11, 1807”, https://www.loc.gov/resource/mtj1.038_0592_0594/?sp=2&st=text, accessed November 24, 2023
  7. “Andrew Fletcher” “Wikiquote”, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Andrew_Fletcher, accessed November 25, 2023
  8. “The 6 Companies That Own (Almost) All Media”, “WebFx”, https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic/, accessed November 24, 2023
  9. “New Research Shows that 71% of Americans Not Get New Content via Social Platforms”, Andere Hutchinson, January 12, 2021, “Social Media Today”, https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/new-research-shows-that-71-of-americans-now-get-news-content-via-social-pl/593255/, accessed November 24, 2023
  10. “March 20, 1781”, “American Devotional Series”, http://www.americandevotionalseries.com/the-revolutionary-war/march-20-1781/, accessed November 25, 2023
  11. “History of the Chaplaincy”, “Office of the Chaplain”, https://chaplain.house.gov/chaplaincy/history.html, accessed November 25, 2023
  12. “Blue Letter Bible” “didaskalia”, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g1319/kjv/tr/0-1/, accessed November 29, 2023
  13. “CNN”, “For Migrants Still Coping with Traumatic Journeys to America, Thanksgiving Will be a Day Like Any Other”, Ray Sanchez, November 23, 2023, https://www.cnn.com/migrants-thanksgiving-new-york-city/index.html, accessed November 29, 2023
  14. “Fair”, “Low Income New Yorkers Lose Out on Thanksgiving Turkeys as Migrants Gobble Them Up”, Joey Chester, November 21, 2023, https://www.fairus.org/blog/2023/11/21/low-income-new-yorkers-lose-out-thanksgiving-turkeys-migrants-gobble-them, accessed November 29, 2023
  15. Image credit: https://libguides.uwgb.edu/evalinfo


That’s Your Opinion | Part II

This is part two of “That’s Your Opinion.” In the first installment, we looked at the way in which the phrase, “That’s your opinion,” is often used as a strategy to prevent anyone from disagreeing with what’s being said by asserting the idea that all opinions have to be certified as valid in order to ensure an environment characterized by compassion and understanding. This is how bad ideas become culturally accepted methodologies. By posing as a victim of an overbearing and intolerant society, one’s viewpoint is embraced as comparable to every other mindset, regardless of what occurs when that perspective is put into practice.

It’s not a statement as much as it’s a strategy to conceal the problems associated with a particular approach.

To prevent this tactic from shutting down what would otherwise be a productive dialogue, you want to navigate the conversation using the techniques used by Christ.

In Part II, we’re going to recap what was discussed in Part I, emphasize the spiritual realities that characterize this contest and that look at some real world examples.

Here we go!

I) Intro: The Dilemma and the Diversion

As someone who subscribes to a perspective on a particular issue that when put into practice results in a world of pain and problems, you now have a dilemma…

You can’t defend your rationale directly, so you create a distraction by posing as an advocate for an open forum where everyone has the right to think for themselves.

This is what is happening when you hear someone say, “That’s your opinion.”

“That’s your opinion” creates a diversion in that you’re now no longer talking about the subject matter. The shortcomings that are inherent to your platform, which stand to be revealed in the context of a legitimate conversation, are overlooked in favor of what appears to be a noble defense of free thinking.

You’re no longer seen as someone attempting to justify your point of view. Now you’re perceived as someone who simply wants everyone to be heard and, because no one can logically challenge that idea, both you and your platform are embraced in the name of diversity and equality.


All the problems caused by the way you manage your thoughts and morals are processed, not as those things that are directly related to the flawed perspectives you insist on maintaining, but as pain inflicted upon you by an intolerant society, if they’re perceived as problems at all.

And while saying, “That’s your opinion” is an effective strategy in preventing an incriminating line of questioning from ever being included as part of the debate, it’s one of several phrases that have the same effect:

  • Not everyone feels that way.
  • You can’t force your beliefs on me.
  • Separation of church and state.

With each phrase you have the ability to conceal the flaws of your platform by framing it as an appeal for compassion and understanding.

It’s a brilliant strategy and one that can be identified as having played a crucial role in adding any one of a number of dysfunctional standards to the list of culturally accepted methodologies.

The best way to counter these tactics is to follow the example of Christ in the way He engaged His opponents and that’s what we’re talking about tonite.

II) It’s Not Against Flesh and Blood

Before we get started, let’s ensure we’re beginning with a biblical starting point:

Ephesians 6:12 says:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)

Our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood…

The topics that we discuss in today’s society and the Truths that we would champion are more than just talking points. There’s a spiritual struggle baked into these debates that prevent an objective evaluation of the facts and however strong and compelling your logic may be, it will be labeled as flawed and even cruel because of the way the human race wants to see itself as its own absolute.

This is part of what Paul is addressing in the verse we just read.

The underlying question is, “Who’s in charge?” If Christ isn’t your starting point, the individual is basically running the show and anybody who disagrees with them is seen as someone who is challenging their authority and not merely questioning their logic.

This is why in order for real change to occur, you have to step back and allow God to do what only He can accomplish (Jn 6:65; 1 Cor 2:12).

The point of this discussion is not to suggest that a particular debating technique can be used as a supplement to Evangelism or to take away from the sense of urgency that accompanies God’s command to be an effective witness (Matt 28:19-20; Eph 5:15-16).

Rather, what we’re looking at are the spiritual realities that are at play and recognizing the tactics that are often used to shut down a conversation before it can get to a place where the Truth of God’s Word can be presented as Something that is both Strong and Superior to any competing school of thought (Is 1:18; Jn 17:17; 1 Cor 1:18).

The takeaway here is not a replacement for Evangelism, as much as it’s a method you can use to circumvent those strategies that are looking to prevent it.

That said, let’s take a look at how human beings tend to defend themselves when confronted with a Truth they don’t want to hear…

III) The Strategy of the Victim

  • When Adam was asked by God why he ate the forbidden fruit, he blamed Eve (Gen 3:12)
  • When Eve was asked why she ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she blamed the serpent (Gen 3:13)
  • When Cain was asked where his brother was, he responded by insinuating it wasn’t his responsibility (Gen 4:9)
  • When Moses confronted Aaron about his willingness to create a golden calf, Aaron blamed his fellow Israelites (Ex 32:22-23)
  • When Samuel accused Saul of disobeying the Lord’s commands, Saul blamed his soldiers for pressuring him to compromise (1 Sam 15:24)
  • When Peter was identified as someone who knew Jesus, Peter insisted he was a victim of mistaken identity (Lk 22:54-62)

It’s typical for someone who has something to hide, as opposed to having something to say, to pose as a victim of extenuating circumstances and in that way, either justify their actions or conceal the self-absorbed agenda that motivates their behavior.

When you say, “That’s your opinion,” you’re asserting that all opinions need to be certified as valid in order to ensure a fair and equitable environment. Now, should anyone question the substance of your opinion, they are heard as being antagonistic to the idea of a person having the right to think for themselves.

To disagree with you in any way shape or form is now associated with an attitude that is unfair and unjust.

And you are now a “victim…”

The focus is now on rescuing you from the clutches of a totalitarian system and the fact that you’re driving on the wrong side of the road and justifying by saying you have the right to be happy is either overlooked or embraced as part of ensuring a proper degree of sensitivity is being applied to the wounds you have received at the hands of a tyrannical paradigm.

These aren’t topics, these are tactics. These aren’t subjects, these are strategies.

The validity of one’s perspective is ultimately gauged according to what occurs when that perspective is put into practice. If the result is fundamentally flawed, then not only is your opinion invalid, but it needs to be subordinated to a mindset that yields a better outcome.

But however logical that approach may be, it is anything but reasonable to a person who’s philosophically invested in their fallacy, which is why they will cling to a victimized status in order to avoid having to defend a mindset that cannot be validated as interchangeable, let alone preferable to those dispositions that produce a better result.

IV) Disable and Dismantle

When confronted with the “That’s your opinion” tactic, you don’t want to think of merely “countering” or “blocking.”

When you look at the way God handled all of the previously mentioned scenarios, you see the same technique happening over and over again.

  • Adam and Eve (Gen 3:13) – What have you done?
  • Cain (Gen 4:10) – What have you done?
  • Moses and Aaron (Ex 32:25-27) – Whose side are you on?
  • Samuel and Saul (1 Sam 15:21) – What does God prefer?
  • Peter and Jesus (Jn 13:38) – Will you really?

However the situation appears to obligate God to acknowledge the compromised status of those He is confronting, He maintains the true purpose of the conversation by simply asking a question.

Each question compels a response that does not allow for anything other than a direct answer. Whatever tactics or strategies that might otherwise be deployed in order to reduce visibility, so the consequences of their actions go unseen are effectively disabled and dismantled.

Jesus used this same kind of approach when talking with the Pharisees.

When they attempted to trap Him into saying something incriminating by asking if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, He replied by asking “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” (Matt 22:20).

When the Pharisees were convinced the Christ as committing blasphemy by telling a man that his sins were forgiven, He responded by asking, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Get up and walk’?” (Matt 9:5).

Questions have to be answered in a way that resonates as complete and coherent. You risk your entire platform by coming across as evasive and manufactured.

And because a perspective lacking in practical substance can’t hold up beneath the weight of a revealing inquiry, you’re able to completely circumvent what would otherwise happen to the conversation when your opponent says, “That’s your opinion.”

V) Examples

There are any one of a number of issues in our society today that are labeled, “controversial” that remain in that category only because of the way they’re camouflaged as opinions that need to be adopted as part of maintaining an impartial marketplace of ideas.

It is possible, however, to uncover the troubled and sinister dynamics that characterize these topics by being like Christ and asking the right questions.

Bear in mind, though, that even when you’re able to bring certain things to light that might otherwise go unnoticed, the real battle is spiritual, and you want to remain sensitive and obedient to however God would work through you in order to ensure that it’s Him that is being clearly seen and not just a more well thought out worldview (Matt 10:19).

Below you’ll see some examples of how a particular approach to an issue can be revealed as being inconsistent with what’s both logical and True by asking the right question(s).

Use these examples to inspire your own rebuttals remembering that the battle is the Lord’s and your Strength comes from Him.

The negative health consequences of alternative sexuality are made more understandable by first recognizing the nature of the sexual practices at issue. A 1979 survey in the book The Gay Report revealed the percentage of gay men who engaged in the following practices: 99% oral sex, 91% anal sex, 82% rimming (analingus), 22% fisting, 23% golden showers (urination on another), 4% scat (defecation on another). 8 The book’s two authors were of same-sex sexual attraction. A May 2011 medical journal article found that felching (“sucking or eating semen out of someone’s anus”) was a sought-after practice in one-sixth of men’s profiles in “one of the largest Internet websites specifically targeting MSM looking for partners for unprotected sex.” (cmda.org)


Is Homosexuality the best way to contract and proliferate the AIDS virus?

As of 2021, there are 32,100 estimated new HIV Infections. Of those, 70% were among gay and bisexual men.1

Homosexuality is engaged according to a collection of sexual practices that represent a breeding ground for all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. In short, it represents a departure from the way the human species is designed. (Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26-27)


Will your baby live if you don’t have an abortion?

The argument that “It’s my body,” ceases to be a legitimate perspective once you realize that your baby is another human being and not a mere skin tag that can be disposed of. (Gen 1:26; Ex 20:13; Ps 139:13-16)


Does everyone deserve a passing grade on a test – even those that didn’t study?

Not everyone has the same work ethic and, in that regard, Socialism doesn’t work because it fails to acknowledge the reality of fools. (2 Thess 3:10)

Christian theology with its idea of a fixed human nature infuriated Marx, who was not just an atheist but a God-hater who denounced religion as “the opium of the people.” His disciples, led by Lenin, always targeted the churches when they came to power. They initiated without apology a campaign of terror, shutting down churches, executing priests and bishops and violating nuns. The horrors were justified as part of the class-cleansing Marx envisioned.

The Founders of the American Revolution rejected those who believed that man was born without any imprint and sided with those who accepted that man was born in the image of God. As the Declaration of Independence states, all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The Founders disagreed with those who thought man was perfectible and instead took the Christian position that man’s nature was fallen.2

 VI) Conclusion

Similar to “turning the other cheek,” 1 Peter 3:14-15 needs to be processed as something more than just being able to tell someone that they’re a sinner and they need Jesus:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Pet 3:14-15)

Among the best defenses of Christianity came from my father who was able to sum up a brilliant apology in two words:

It works.

Christianity is not just remedy for sin in the context of being able to avoid eternal damnation. Godly living puts you in a position of strength in the way you’re able to avoid the practical consequences of sinful behavior as well.

It works.

Those who want to maintain themselves as their own absolute do so at the expense of their own welfare. You can’t identify one “sin” that’s specified in the Bible from a moral perspective and not see how by abiding by God’s Instructions, you inevitably benefit.

You’re better off not being a Homosexual because of what you’re able to avoid in terms of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which are lethal.

You’re better off not having sex before you get married, so you’re not saddled with the kind of responsibility that was designed to be shared by both a mother and a father.

You’re not better off not stealing or murdering anyone because of the repercussions you’ll have to contend with in the aftermath.

As a committed follower of Christ, you’re better off!

It works.

And when someone says, “That’s your opinion,” recognize that, while it’s not always the case, in most instances that’s what someone says when they know they can’t disagree with what’s being said without sounding selfish or foolish. Reason being that the damage done by those things that occur when their opinion is played out in real time can’t compete with alternative perspectives that work out much better.

Hence the need to conceal the flaws in their argument by posing as a champion for an open forum, by saying…

“That’s your opinion.”

Don’t let these tactics silence the Strength of Scripture. Be ready to ask those questions that facilitate an objective evaluation of the mindset in question and let the lack of reason that characterizes their argument serve as a spotlight that can then be pointed at a better approach and ultimately to the Son of God Himself.


  1. “HIV Incidence”, “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/in-us/incidence.html, accessed November 15, 2023
  2. “What Americans Must Know About Socialism”, Lee Edwards, Ph.D, December 3, 2018, “The Heritage Foundation”, https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/what-americans-must-know-about-socialism, accessed November 15, 2023

Iron Sharpens Iron

As you go through life, you inevitably make friends.

Some of those people will fade into the mist as time takes you in different directions.

But there are some who’s influence will endure beyond a mere season and you’ll find yourself interacting with them throughout your life in a way that goes beyond incremental subjects. Instead, you’ll be able to be transparent and share things that require a level of trust and character that’s not especially common.

Those kinds of friends are more than just the kind that stand beside you at a party. They’re the ones that stand beside you when you get married. They’re not just among those you might call when you’re looking to do something over the weekend. They’re the kind you can rely on in times of adversity.

Proverbs 17:17 says:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Prov 17:17)

And while “a brother” is typically someone you’re related to, there are those that sometimes function in ways that transcend a blood relationship…

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Prov 18:24) 

The bottom line is that, among the friends you have, you’ve got an inner circle that’s comprised of people who don’t simply receive what you invest into them, they reciprocate by pouring back into you. That’s the litmus test for a “true” friend – they give of themselves in order to serve and encourage you.

They don’t replace Christ. He is the ultimate manifestation of a “friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Jn 15:12-15). But they are the Hands and Feet of Christ in their consistency and their willingness to sacrifice for your sake.

Such a friend is rare and they need to be categorized in your mind as genuine treasures. If you’re processing them correctly, you will be the first to help them in their times of need. Not because you feel obligated, but because you welcome the chance to help and provide for them when they need it.

Another characteristic of those kinds of friends is the way in which they “sharpen” you.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Prov 27:17)

They don’t let you get away with bad choices…

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. (Ps 141:5)

They hold you accountable (Lk 17:3) and their example reminds you of the perks that go along with being obedient to your King (Jn 10:10).

On the other hand, those who proudly declare themselves to be either casual in their faith, or maintain the status of a spiritual train wreck and are indifferent to the idea of being commited to Christ and perpetually growing bigger and better wheir their spiritual muscle is concerned – you don’t want to let those people inside your philosophical home to the point where they are allowed to start rearranging the furniture.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Cor 15:33)

And you want to be especially dillient in your assessment of people because of the way the worst of ideas can begin to sound pretty reasonable with enough repetition (1 Pet 5:8). You don’t have to be weak to be vulnerable. Some of the most prominent people in Scripture found themselves in a place they never would’ve imagined because of the way they allowed the enemy a little too much freedom. And in almost every instance, the choices leading up to their mistake were heavily influenced by another person.

That’s why you want to be careful and, at the same time, very appreciative of the quality people in your life who function as the north stars that consistently point you in the right direction. You label them as such only after careful evaluation and experience.

At the same time, you pay attention to the character of those who would lobby for your friendship and be mindful of the darkness they either try to hide or dimiss as an inconsequential subtlety. You never want to categorize sin as incidental. It put Christ on the cross and it puts you and I in hell apart for God’s grace.  Anyone who would gloss over the thing that put the nails in Christ’s Hands is the “company” referenced in 1 Corinthians 15:33 and they’re not worth your time.

And while you want to be careful in the way you categorize your friends, you also want to ensure that you’re the kind of friend that measures up to the kind of standard a person would want in their life.

It starts and ends with your relationship with Christ because of the way He serves as the Source of both your Wisdom (Jas 1:5) and your Strength (Is 41:10; Phil 4:13). Keep that top buttoned fastend securely and you’re not only keeping company with those who qualify as true friends…

…but you’re also the iron that sharpens iron!

Turning the Other Cheek – How to do it Right

It’s not uncommon for Christians to believe that, in light of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, that when you’re confronted with either a crime, an insult or even an attack, you’re imitating Jesus by basically absorbing whatever offense is being directed towards you. The idea is that by either not defending yourself or simply keeping a distance from anything that could be confrontational, you’re pointing the world to a saving faith in Christ.

But that interpretation doesn’t line up with the whole of God’s Word. Throughout Scripture, you have military tactics not just being endorsed, but even empowered by God Himself (Josh 8:1-2; 1 Sam 23:4; Ps 44:3). There are multiple passages that talk about the priority of being skilled in combat (Jud 3:1-2; 20:16), having the ability to defend yourself (Lk 22:36-37), being politically astute (1 Chron 12:32) and unashamedly bold in addressing evil and defeating it (1 Cor 5:13; Eph 5:11; 6:12).

Three Things

You don’t want to construct your convictions on what amounts to a partial collection of Scriptures. Rather, you want to incorporate all of what the Bible says to ensure you’re standing on solid ground (Matt 7:24).

There are three things that are typically used to justify the idea that turning the other cheek means to be either compliant or unresponsive.

We’re going to go over all three and, again, by looking at the whole of God’s Word and not just certain parts of it, you’ll see that there is a place for, what we’re going to call, “Sanctified Violence.” With this approach, we’re avoiding what happens when an incomplete assessment of Scripture is used as the foundation upon which we base our perspective on turning the other cheek.

Here we go…!

If Matthew 5:39 applied to the state and to human government, then the principle of “Resist not evil” would mean the abolition of all law enforcement. There would neither be police officers nor judges nor prisons of any kind. All society would immediately fall prey to the lawless and criminal elements in society, and the result would be total anarchy. Nothing could have been further from Christ’s mind than such Satan-glorifying savagery and brutality.1

Slap in the Face

First of all, you have the passage in Matthew where Jesus admonishes His hearers to not respond in kind to someone who offends you.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matt 5:38-42)

Bear in mind that a slap in the face was not considered an assault. Rather, it was an intensely degrading offense. It wasn’t as painful as much as it was humiliating.

From a cultural perspective, the left hand was considered to be exclusive to basic hygiene and not used as part of everyday activities.1 Hence, to slap a person on the right cheek required a backhanded slap which was the way in which a superior would strike a subordinate.

To offer your left cheek was not an act of submission. In order to slap a person on the left cheek, you would again be using your right hand, but now it was an open-handed slap – a convention reserved for social equals.2

By responding in this way, you’re staring down the offender and obligating them to acknowledge your dignity which they cannot do without humbling themselves. In addition, it creates a situation where if the reason you’re being humiliated in public has any real basis, that will only be determined if the person who’s insulting you is willing to recognize that you are not subordinate to him.3

That’s a tall order for someone whose primary reason for insulting you is to try and offset the voices they hear within themselves that says they don’t amount to much. On the other hand, if they don’t take you up on your offer, they’re admitting that they’re vain or insecure and anyone on the outside looking in is not going to be impressed.

It’s kind of like someone berating you and you responding back to them by asking if they have anything else they want to say.

You’re not retreating, you’re not just holding your ground, you’re not accommodating them in any way. Rather, you’re putting them in a spot where they have to do more than just yell at one of the players on the field. They actually have to address them as an individual and articulate what it is they want to say. And if all they have is a self-absorbed collection of nonsensical superlatives, while they want to be seen as domineering and intentional, no one sees them now as anything other than loud and obnoxious.

You’re not being obedient by allowing evil to go unchecked, let alone encouraging it. When you turn the other cheek, Jesus isn’t asking you to hand the keys to your home over to a vandal determined to destroy everything in your house. Instead, He’s giving you an effective strategy that places your adversary in a situation where they cannot avoid the equivalent to a checkmate because of the way it not only stops him, but it also reveals him for what he truly is.

Christlike Compliance

Let’s talk now about Jesus’ conduct leading up to being crucified. Many want to suggest that Christ’s resolve to be compliant represents a template for the way in which you are to defend yourself against any kind of assault, be it an attack on your character or your person.

But there’s a dynamic in place that often gets overlooked which shows how Jesus’ words and behavior isn’t so much a pattern that we are to follow as much as it’s a choice He needed to make in order for the sins of the world to be atoned for.

You see it in Luke, chapter 22:

53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” (Lk 22:53)

It’s the last part of the verse where He says, “…this is your hour – when darkness reigns.” Christ is referencing the fact that evil is being allowed into the building. The doors that should’ve been lockec have been intentionally left open.

We’re told to resist evil in the book of James (Jas 4:7). The plot to kill Paul was thwarted in part by a detachment of 470 Roman soldiers (Acts 23). You’ve got the Conquest of the Promised Land (Josh 12) , the multiple military victories David won as Israel’s general (1 Sam 18:13-14), the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem involved both tools as well as spears, shields, bows and armor (Neh  4:16)– Scripture abounds with Divinely empowered heroics and displays of force that conclusively demonstrate the fact that evil is to be defeated and sometimes in ways that go beyond a gentle rebuke.

And yet…

Here’s Jesus saying that darkness is being allowed to reign. He underscores this in the book of Matthew when He references how, if He wanted to, He could utterly decimate those that would accuse and arrest Him without even having to soil His Hands by deploying the angels God was ready to place at His disposal (Matt 26:52-54).

The hounds of hell are not overpowering the Son of Man. He’s permitting them to have their way.

The point, here, is that Jesus would not have been wrong to resist. Sin is never to be tolerated, let alone coronated as the Standard by which everything is measured (1 Cor 5:13; Eph 5:3; 1 Pet 5:8).

Christ’s silence before His accusers and cooperation with the Pharisees is not a schematic for how we are to contend with those who have wicked intentions. In order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled – in order for the power of sin and death to be defeated – Jesus had to go to the cross and die (Rom 8:1-2).

So, unless you’ve been tasked with being a martyr – and there have been many instances where people taking a stand for Christ did so by sacrificing their lives – don’t let Christ’s intentional surrender to the powers of darkness serve as your script for the way in which you fight against the way Satan would confuse, defeat and destroy you or anything else that bears the Signature of your Heavenly Father.

Among the many martyrs that went to their death as part of championing the cause of Christ was a brilliant theologian by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Dietrich preached during the time of Adolph Hitler and was eventually arrested and executed. At one point, Bonhoeffer said:

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear … Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.4

But Bonhoeffer also said:

If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.5

Bonhoeffer was restricted from preaching in public, but he was arrested, not so much for the sermons he preached but because of his involvement with the Resistance movement that opposed Hitler. It was the Fuhrer himself who order Bonhoeffer’s execution6.

While Bonhoeffer’s stance on violence may appear to be contradictory, it’s not when you process it with the whole of God’s Word clearly in view.

Protecting Those You’re Responsible For

We are not loving those we are responsible for by enabling the evildoers who would do them harm. 1 Timothy 5:8 says that you’re worse than an unbeliever if you’re not providing for your family. How are you providing for them if you’re not first protecting them from those things that threaten their welfare?

Matthew Henry offers some insightful commentary:

We must not be revengeful (v. 39); I say unto you, that ye resist not evil;—the evil person that is injurious to you. The resisting of any ill attempt upon us, is here as generally and expressly forbidden, as the resisting of the higher powers is (Rom 13 2); and yet this does not repeal the law of self-preservation, and the care we are to take of our families; we may avoid evil, and may resist it, so far as is necessary to our own security; but we must not render evil for evil, must not bear a grudge, nor avenge ourselves, nor study to be even with those that have treated us unkindly, but we must go beyond them by forgiving them, (Prov 20 22; 24 29; 25 21, 22; Rom 12 7). 7

And how are you loving your enemy by accommodating their wickedness that offends God and ultimately translates to their spiritual death (Rom 5:12; 6:23)?

There’s a difference between loving your enemy and enabling them, just like there’s a difference between “accepting” everyone as opposed to “inviting” everyone to participate in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus never accommodated sin, rather He transformed the sinner (Jn 8:11). But that transformation cannot occur apart from first acknowledging and confessing one’s sin. You have no need for grace if you don’t first see yourself as a sinner.

All this has to be facilitated by God Himself (Jn 6:65; 1 Cor 2:12). For someone to feel convicted to the point where they’re looking to the empty tomb requires a Divinely inspired perspective.

But we accomplish nothing by suggesting that the sin that puts them in hell apart from God’s Grace, either doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.

The example of Christ is not one of “toleration” as much as it’s an “Invitation” to let the Power of God transform your life.

That’s Your Opinion

No one likes to be told they’re wrong, especially if they’re philosophically invested in what they subscribe to. But it’s not their lifestyle nor their mindset that’s the problem, it’s the fact that they’re born as a spiritual corpse. They are going to be antagonistic towards the Truth by default, regardless of how it’s packaged (Rom 8:7). In order for them to be receptive to the Power of God, they have to be enabled by God to understand and accept it (Jn 6:65; I Cor 2:12). That doesn’t translate to an excuse for us to be silent and distant, let alone complicit or harsh when it comes to confronting those who need to be made aware that they’re not in line with what God commanded let alone what is ultimately in their best interest (Gal 6:1; 1 Pet 3:15).

No doubt you’ll hear the phrase, “That’s your opinion,” or something comparable. While it’s not always the case, that phrase along with “You can’t force your beliefs on me,” and “Not everyone feels that way” aren’t so much statements as much as they are tactics to distract attention from the shortcomings that characterize what they subscribe to and instead create a situation where their perspective can’t be questioned let alone criticized by someone without that same person being labeled cruel or intolerant.

You’re now no longer talking about beliefs or convictions as much as you are the ability to choose how you want to think. The fact that not every opinion translates to the same outcome is completely ignored in the name of a corrupted interpretation of compassion and understanding.

This is how fundamentally flawed perspectives get added to the list of culturally accepted methodologies. It’s no longer about the practical merits of your viewpoint as much as it’s your ability to maneuver the debate so you’re viewed as a victim that deserves to be compensated as opposed to a rationale that rates an endorsement.

More often than not, when you hear someone say, “That’s your opinion,” what they’re really saying is: “I don’t like what I’m hearing, but I can’t disagree with you without sounding either selfish or absurd.” So rather than disputing the opposing argument, the person who knows they can’t champion their perspective directly will pose as an advocate of an open forum where every approach is being given a fair hearing.

Because no one can deny a person’s basic right to have an opinion, the platform belonging to the individual promoting an equitable dialogue is given priority over every other competing school of thought. While it resonates on the surface as fair and appropriate, the platform that is now being validated contains both a justified appeal for impartiality and…

…a take on a particular issue that is neither logical nor beneficial when compared to other viewpoints.

The fundamentally flawed perspective is being embraced without any questions being asked – specifically those questions that have the capacity to demonstrate the discrepancies that characterize that perspective’s practical and intellectual substance.


Jesus never allowed sin to be ignored. Those He engaged were not “accepted” as much as they were invited to embrace a new Perspective on themselves and the world around them that began by first acknowledging their need to be forgiven. Those that position themselves either as victims or indifferent villains aren’t looking to repent as much as they’re looking to have their behavior validated. Until you see yourself as a sinner, you’re oblivious to your need for forgiveness and the Grace of God is an assault on your personal sovereignty as opposed to the payment of a debt you wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay.

This is yet another reason why “turning the other cheek” needs to be accurately understood as a Divine admonishment to engage the tactics of the enemy however they manifest themselves. And you don’t want to settle for being an ineffective obstacle, but a legitimate barrier that halts, reveals and dismantles the spiritual forces of evil in a way that underscores the benefits and the appeal of all that God brings to the table.

So, when you turn the other cheek, do it right.


1. “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties”, Dr. Gleason Archer, The Zondervan Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1982, p342

2. “Religion and Culture: Poential Undercurrents Influencing Hand Hygiene Promotion in Health Care”, Benedetta Allegranzi, MD,aZiad A. Memish, MD,b Liam Donaldson, MD,a Didier Pittet, MD, MS,a,c, and World Health Organization Global Patient Safety Challenge Task Force on Religious and Cultural Aspects of Hand Hygiene (lead, D. Pittet), World Alliance for Patient Safety, October 3, 2008,  “National Library of Medicine”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7115273/, accessed November 5, 2023

3. “Roman soldiers tended to be right-handed. When they struck an equal with a fist, it came from the right and made contact with the left side of the face. When they struck an inferior person, they swung with the back of their right hand making contact with the right cheek. In a Mediterranean culture that made clear distinctions between classes, Roman soldiers backhanded their subjects to make a point. Jews were second-class.” The Roman slap was an insult to the Jews’ personal dignity.

In “On Turning the Other Cheek (and How It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means),” Corey Far explained that a slap on the right cheek meant the soldier backhanded the Jews, which was a far more demeaning slap. “It was degrading,” he said. “It was what you gave to an inferior or a slave.” To not break down emotionally and simply turn the other cheek meant that the soldier couldn’t slap you again on the right cheek, and, Farr said, “he can’t slap you with his left hand, because that is unclean for both of you.” The soldier’s only option was to slap with the palm of his hand, and “this was not the way to slap a slave. This was reserved for equals.” Thus, in giving the other cheek, the degraded person asserted his humanity in a brave countermove — a humble response, yet also an act of courage against an oppressive system. (“What Does it Really Mean to ‘Turn the Other Cheek’?”, Down Wilson, December 22, 2022, “Bible Study Tools”, https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-does-it-really-mean-to-turn-the-other-cheek.html, accessed November 5, 2023

4. “The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” ed. Isabel Best, Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2012, p169

5. Bonhoeffer was implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler by virtue of his involvement with the Abwehrwhich was a German intelligency organization. While on the surface, the Abwehr appeared to be an effective extension of the Nazi military effort, it was, in fact staffed by people who opposed Hitler and were determined to overthrow the Nazi regime from the inside out. In the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler, Hans Oster, one of the Deputy Chiefs of the Abwehr, named his superior, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the leader of the Abwehr as the “spiritual founder of the Resistance Movement.” As a result, Canaris was arrested and when his diaries were discovered by Hitler, the full extent of Canaris’ anti-Nazi efforts were discovered including several names, one of which was Hans Von Dohnanyi, Bonhoeffer’s brother in law. At that point, anyone associated with the Abwehr and, more specifically, the assassination attempt on Hitler, was suspect. it was then that the Fuherer ordered the execution of several Abwehr members including Bonhoeffer. (“Wilhelm Canaris”, “Traces of War”, https://www.tracesofwar.com/articles/3007/Wilhelm-Canaris.htm, accessed December 17, 2023)

6. “The Cost of Discipleship”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “By Faith” https://byfaith.org/2023/02/06/the-cost-of-discipleship-by-dietrich-bonhoeffer/, accessed November 5, 2023

7. “Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible”, Matthew 5, “Bible Study Tools”, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/5.html, accessed November 5, 2023

That’s Your Opinion | Part I

I) Here’s Your Challenge

You have a perspective on a particular issue that when it’s put into practice results in a world of pain and problems.

Yet, it’s something that falls in line with your preferences, so now you have a dilemma…

How do you champion your viewpoint without sounding either outrageously selfish or absurd?

Part of what makes this especially challenging is that you have to retool the very definition of all that’s right, good, moral and just. If you are to successfully position your viewpoint as something that is comparable to every other approach, despite its flaws and liabilities, you’ve got to introduce some new standards in order to make your platform look credible.

You have to be your own absolute.

But it’s really not that hard.

All you need to do is use one of several phrases that frame the debate in a way where you are perceived as someone who’s merely advocating an environment where everyone’s opinion is credible. Now you can not only win the debate, but you can also make every other opposing mindset look sinister because those who are on the outside looking in aren’t hearing your opponent challenge your logic. Rather, they’re hearing them as being against the very concepts of compassion and understanding.

You have a number of comments to choose from:

  • Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
  • Not everyone feels that way.
  • You can’t force your beliefs on me.
  • Separation of Church and State.

Every one of these phrases has one thing in common: It changes the way you’re now no longer heard as someone trying to justify themselves. Instead, you’re heard as someone being “forced” to subscribe to something you don’t agree with.

You are a victim of a totalitarian system, and now you can’t be criticized or corrected.

The focus is now neither on the subject matter nor on the flaws of your argument. Rather, it’s on the character of the person who’s daring to question the validity of your approach because of the way you’ve been able to characterize them as overbearing and intolerant.

The direct line of questioning that has the capacity to reveal the flaws of your argument…?


The challenge of having to account for the damage done by the approach you subscribe to?

Not your responsibility.

No one wants to be labeled intolerant or judgmental or homophobic or racist…

So, in the context of one, well timed comment, you can shift the attention away from what’s being discussed and instead focus on the apparent character flaws of those who disagree with you. And in no time at all, you create a level of intimidation to the point where no one wants to say anything at all.

II) Your Battleplan

You can’t drive on the wrong side of the road and justify it by saying you have the right to be happy. At some point, you have to be able to certify your way of thinking as credible according to what happens when your battleplan is put into action.

If you’re forcing people into the ditch or you’re causing head on collisions, then your opinion needs to be subordinated to a different approach that yields a better result.

What you think and how you feel is important. But when you establish yourself as your own bottom line in order to avoid taking responsibility for the organic outcome of those processes you have endorsed, you’re not a victim of anything other than your own poor decision making.

You can’t shoot yourself in the foot and then turn around and blame all your pain on the one who told you not to pull the trigger to begin with.

III) Basic Math

Imagine telling someone that 2 + 2 = 4 and they respond by saying, “You can’t force your beliefs on me!”

Think about it!

They’re not declaring themselves to be right nor are they insisting that you’re wrong.

In some ways, they’re not really adding anything to the conversation, but it’s not what they’re saying as much as it’s what they’re doing.

They’re creating a distraction.

We’re not talking about math anymore. Now you’re having to contend with being labeled a tyrant and until you’ve vindicated yourself, the idea that 2 + 2 = 4 is suspect due to the way you’ve been indicted as being cruel and opinionated.

Of course, since you’re the only witness for the defense, your testimony isn’t especially compelling. You can’t really defend yourself because everyone expects you to insist that you’re innocent.


The person who said, “You can’t force your beliefs on me” is able to create their own version of mathematics.

2 + 2 can equal whatever they want because, while the conversation began by discussing the sum of two integers, it was altered by insinuating that you’re hateful and mean. Now everyone’s feeling obligated to perceive you and your platform as being inappropriate and any notion of a genuinely accurate calculation is no longer a priority.

Given some time, this kind of dynamic can actually produce an anomaly where 2 + 2 can equal anything but 4 because of the way basic addition is now characterized as unenlightened and immoral.

IV) Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When Cain killed his brother Abel, God confronted Cain by asking him, “Where is your brother?”

Cain’s got a problem.

He can’t answer the question directly because by doing so he would be incriminating himself. So, he does the equivalent to what we’ve been talking about by asserting the idea that he is being questioned by an Individual Who is domineering and demanding.

Cain responds by asking God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

In other words, “I’m not responsible for my brother, therefore I can’t know for certain where he is and for You to assume that I would know represents a level of presumption that is neither fair nor appropriate.”

Cain tries to set himself up as a victim. He’s basically telling God, “That’s Your opinion.”

But look at how God responds.

He says, “What have you done?”

God’s Holy, so His Motives are beyond reproach. But the issue isn’t the purity of His Disposition, it’s the fact that Abel is dead and by refusing to submit to Cain’s line of questioning, God is able to maintain the true purpose of the conversation by focusing on what Cain has done and those things that have happened as a result.

Cain’s attempt to conceal both his way of thinking as well as his behavior by indirectly accusing God of having unreasonable expectations is the same methodology being deployed by people who would defend their viewpoint by saying…

That’s your opinion, you can’t force your beliefs on me, not everyone feels that way.

Even the separation of church and state is often nothing more than a veiled attempt to distract attention away from the consequences of a person’s behavior and instead make it all about the status of an individual’s emotional sensibilities.

I don’t care what the Bible says, I’m going to do whatever I want to do regardless of the problems it may cause and if you don’t agree with me, well…

That’s your opinion.

V) Conclusion

As believers we are often opposed by people who would attempt to shut down any meaningful dialogue by saying, “That’s your opinion.”

You want to be ready to process that response as something that is, at least potentially, not so much a contribution to the conversation, but as a tactic to tailor the conversation in a way where any Truth is compromised because of the way it’s now associated with an implied intolerance for the thoughts and feelings of others.

Should you find yourself in that situation, you want to take your cue from God’s Example and respond by simply asking the right questions.

Results and Outcomes as opposed to Feelings and Preferences.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and you can’t force your beliefs on someone else. But you’re not being overbearing when you’re simply evaluating those things that result from when a person’s perspective is put into practice.

An “opinion,” according to the dictionary is, “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” When God questioned Cain about Abel’s whereabouts, He wasn’t attempting to discern something that couldn’t be known for certain. There was no need to speculate. Cain’s response was an attempt to distract from those things that could be readily observed in order to perpetuate the idea that any notion of his being guilty of anything sinister was based on something wholly subjective.

And that’s the point.

When someone tries to navigate the dialogue in a way where everything remains relative in order to sustain the idea that there is no definitive right or wrong, you can counter that strategy by doing the very same thing God did with Cain: Replace subjective ideas with observable facts.

And not just some of the facts, but all of the information that’s relevant to the dialogue.

So, the next time you hear someone say, “That’s your opinion,” you can respond by saying, “No, these are observable facts” and then proceed to make your case. By bringing the focus of the debate back to what can be known and not merely felt, you’re able to prevent preferences from becoming principles and bad ideas from becoming accepted methodologies.

What Does it Mean to be Saved? | Part II – How Do You Get Saved?

The following is the script used as part of the “Muscular Christianity Podcast,” which you can access by clicking here.

I) Intro

Hey guys, Bruce Gust with Muscular Christianity.

This is part two of a three-part series pertaining to Salvation.

Part One, we looked at what does it mean to be born again. This is part two where we’re talking about how do you actually become born again?

How do you get saved?

And as far as I’m concerned, this is gold right here. This is Holy Spirit, Word of God, bottom line kind of stuff. It’s the type of thing that you really want to be paying attention to because there are a number of people out there that believe that simply by verbally acknowledging that Christ died and came back to life they therefore qualify as a Christian.

You want to be careful with that kind of approach because Romans 10:9-10 makes it clear that there’s more to “believing” than simply saying the right words.

This is where we kick off Part Two.

Are you ready?

Here we go.

II) More Than Words

Romans 10:9-10:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Rom 10:9-10)

You believe.

That’s it.

You can’t earn God’s favor and you don’t merit his grace with anything you do or abstain from. The Bible makes it clear that all you have to do is simply embrace the reality of Christ as being absolutely true.

And there you go.

Bear in mind though, that you can believe something to be true, yet it not be adopted as a matter of practice.

It’s like looking at a chair, believing that it can support you, but until you’re actually sitting in it, your belief is an intellectual exercise as opposed to a practical commitment.

Think of it this way, you can believe that the speed limit is 55 and still be going 80. You can believe that diet and exercise is important and yet never work out. You can believe that it’s time to get up and still stay in bed.

2:19 You believe that there is one God. A clear reference to the passage most familiar to his Jewish readers: the shema (Dt 6:4-5), the most basic doctrine of the OT. Demons believe. Even fallen angels affirm the oneness of God and tremble at its implications. Demons are essentially orthodox in their doctrine (cf. Matt 8:29-30; Mk 5:7; Lk 4:41; Acts 19:15). But orthodox doctrine by itself if no proof of saving faith. They know the truth about God, Christ and the Spirit, but hate it and them. (“MacArthur Bible Commentary”, John MacArthur, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2005, p1888 [commentary on James 2:19])

Believing that Jesus Christ died and came back to life as a historical fact doesn’t qualify you as being any different than the demons.

James 2:19:

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (Jas 2:19)

You can see something similar in Matthew 7 when Jesus says:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt 7:21-23)

However you want to envision that part of you that drives the way you think, act and feel – whether you want to think of it as your personality or your soul – the important thing that needs to be established is that it’s more than just a mindset or a mood.

It’s what makes you the person that you are.

The Bible calls that your heart. When you believe something in your heart, you’re not just conceding its accuracy from an academic standpoint. When you believe something in the context of your intellect, it will change your mind. But when you believe something in your heart, it will change your life.

Dr. John MacArthur elaborates on this in his commentary on Romans 1:16. He says:

Saving faith consists of three elements: (1) mental: the mind understands the gospel and the truth about Christ (10:14-17); (2) emotional: one embraces the truthfulness of those facts with sorrow over sin and joy over God’s mercy and grace (6:17; 15:13); and (3) volitional: the sinner submits his will to Christ and trusts in Him alone as the only of salvation (see note on 10:9). Genuine faith will always produce authentic obedience (see note on 4:3; cf. John 8:31; 14:21-24). (“MacArthur Bible Commentary”, John MacArthur, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2005, p11505 [commentary on Romans 1:16])

If you break that down, you’re looking at body, mind and soul like what it says in Luke 10:27. Again, like I said before, it’s the difference between a historical fact as opposed to a personal reality.

That’s the kind of belief being referenced in the book of Romans and that’s the kind of belief that gets you saved.

We’re getting ready to do “Part Three: How Do You Know That You’re Saved?” But listen, guys, again, this stuff is huge. And I want to make a point of mentioning that all of this that we’re talking about is something you want to validate for yourselves by reading and researching the Scriptures all this is based on.

Go out to muscularChristianityonline.com and click on the link that says “Podcast Notes.”

I’m Bruce Gust with Muscular Christianity. Let’s go make a difference.

What Does it Mean to be Saved? | Part III

I) Intro

Hey guys, Bruce Gust, Muscular Christianity.

This is Part Three of a three-part series pertaining to Salvation.

In Part One we looked at what does it mean to be saved. In Part Two we talked about how you get saved and listen, while all of this is important, Part Two is absolutely crucial because you want to base your identity in Christ on what it says in the Word of God.

Contenting yourself with the idea that you’re born again just because you’re comfortable repeating the same words a demon would say about the Resurrection of Christ is not in line with what Scripture says as far as, not just confessing with your mouth, but believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.

When you believe something in your heart, the death and resurrection of Christ is no longer just a historical fact. Rather, it’s a personal reality and that’s what you need to ensure is in place in order to qualify as someone who is truly born again.

So, be sure to out to MuscularChristianityOnline.com, click on Podcast Notes, find that particular episode and look at the Scriptures that are either being referred to specifically or what’s referred to in the Notes. You don’t want to overlook those things that define a saving faith as defined in the Bible and instead be placing your confidence in a meaningless sound bite.

Now let’s take a look at Part Three: How do You Know that You’re Saved?

II) The Wrong Side of the Road

Imagine you’re driving on the wrong side of the road, right?

A police officer comes up alongside you and tells you to pull over.

All right.

Now imagine that instead of pulling over, you just roll your window down, you yell out the window, “Hey, I’m sorry,” and then you continue driving just as you were before.

Ridiculous, right?

But this is the way some process sin. Their driving on the wrong side of the road isn’t a real problem, at least as far as it being something that needs to be forgiven.

And if they are willing to concede that they need to have a little talk with Jesus, they don’t really ask for forgiveness as much as they just go through the motions so they can feel better about themselves.

They’re not willing to confess that they’re doing anything wrong.

Just like that scenario where the police officer is saying, “Hey, you need to get back in your lane or you need to pull over,” they not see that as being something that they need to respond to.

It isn’t a problem.

They don’t recognize God as an Authority, they’re not changing their behavior – they’re not pulling over.

And you see all of this captured in 1 John 3:6

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 Jn 3:6)

In other words, if you’re not pulling over when the spirit of God motions you to the side of the road, you’re either a very immature Christian and discounting the reality of sin or you don’t have the Holy Spirit living in you, which means you’re not saved.

Bear in mind, John isn’t saying that unless you’re a morally perfect individual that you’re not born again (Rom 7:14-25). What he is saying is that if you ignore God’s Voice, whether it be something documented specifically in Scripture or that sense of hesitation, you feel that’s prompted by God’s spirit, which is called Conviction (Jn 16:8).

When you feel that, if you’re not stopping, if you’re not pulling over, well, then something’s off.

How do you know you’re saved?

Ask yourself if you pull over and if you’re willing to acknowledge your shortcomings when God points them out and then make the necessary changes to your behavior in the aftermath.

Do you pull over?

III) What About Those Situations Where You’re Not Really Doing Anything Wrong, But…

And listen, human beings are guilty of occasionally making conclusions based on a very subjective collection of criteria. There are times where you might be doing something that, to other people, looks positively wrong and suddenly you’re being criticized for something you don’t believe to be a problem.

How do you navigate that kind of situation?

A) Eating Meat

Here’s the thing: In First Corinthians (1 Cor 10:23-33), Paul addresses a situation where new believers were having a hard time with those who were eating a piece of meat that had been used as part of a pagan religious ceremony.

In their minds, to eat that meat was indirectly engaging in idolatry and it was a real problem for them. And it wasn’t because they were being overly particular. This was something that was a part of their culture and now, having been born again, they’re looking at everything through a new set of eyes and they’re seeing this as a sin.

Thing is, not everyone is seeing that way but for those who are hesitating, they’re now vulnerable to make some concessions that are sinful because of the way they’re processing this situation as permission to “bend the rules.”

Paul reinforces the idea that to view the meat as tainted is ridiculous for any one of a number of reasons, but…

If you know you’re in the presence of someone who’s struggling with this situation, Paul encourages those who are more mature in their thinking to simply abstain from eating the meat if they know it has the potential to be perceived as a problem.

The bottom line being that you want to promote the spiritual growth of those who are new to the faith, not just for their sake, but also for the sake of being able to make God’s glory and prominence all the more appealing.

First Corinthians 10:31 says:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

It’s not that you can’t eat meat, you just want to be sensitive in the way you exercise your freedom so your behavior doesn’t embolden someone to adopt a mindset that makes them all the more vulnerable to do something foolish (Rom 14:13-23).

Your priority needs to be God’s Reputation, and not your personal take on the matter.

And just as quick aside, the Bible refers to those who choose to be obstacles to someone else’s relationship with Christ as a “stumbling block.” Jesus talks about how things that make people “stumble” are inevitable, but you don’t want to be the one responsible for damaging someone’s faith:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matt 18:6-7)

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your behavior is no one’s business but your own. You answer to your Heavenly Father and you want to be aware of how you’re coming across – not just for the sake of keeping a safe distance between you and the devil, but also to ensure you’re a compliment to what God would do in the lives of others and not a distraction from it.

B) Making Excuses

There are times, however, when we are falling short, although we don’t want to admit it.

We justify ourselves by saying that we’re not “really” doing anything wrong, and it can be fairly easy to convince those who might be concerned that their apprehension is totally ill-founded because of the way in which our true motives can be easily concealed with the right kind of verbiage.

Granted, this can get into some subjective territory, but you’re not playing to win when you’re doing things that make it easier to lose. And when you’re not just contemplating concessions but actually doing things that make those compromises more likely, then you have to ask, “Whose team am I playing for?”

You see that sentiment in Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt 6:24)

If you’re doing something that equates to intentionally walking every batter right up to the point where the bases are loaded, you’re not resisting the devil, you’re cooperating with him.

James 4:7 says:

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (Jas 4:7)

Romans 13:14 says:

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Rom 13:14)

There’s a timeline that James outlines in chapter one which traces how sin begins with a thought, then morphs to a plan and finally to an action:

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (Jas 1:14-15)

Being tempted isn’t a sin, but once you start dwelling on it and maneuvering things around that better accommodate the possibility of the enemy putting some points on the board, even if you’ve yet to cross “the” line, according to Scripture you’ve nevertheless crossed “a” line by allowing a sinister concession to make it’s way past your mind and into your heart where you’re physically opening doors that should remain locked.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:28 that if you look at a woman lustfully, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart. On the surface that looks a little harsh and maybe even somewhat absurd. But when you contemplate what the “heart” is from a biblical perspective, it makes more sense in that you’re now at that point that James refers to when “desire has conceived.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Christ’s comment in the Sermon on the Mount elaborates on that by saying:

This command forbids not only the acts of fornication and adultery, but, (1.) All appetites to them, all lusting after the forbidden object; this is the beginning of the sin, lust conceiving (James 1 15); it is a bad step towards the sin; and where the lust is dwelt upon and approved, and the wanton desire is rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel, it is the commission of sin, as far as the heart can do it… (2.) All approaches toward them; feeding the eye with the sight of the forbidden fruit; not only looking for that end, that I may lust; but looking till I do lust, or looking to gratify the lust, where further satisfaction cannot be obtained. (“Bible Study Tools”, “Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible”, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/5.html, accessed October 7, 2023)

These aren’t just “impure thoughts,” this is you intentionally fumbling the ball and giving the other team a chance to score.

No, not everything is black and white. But, then again, God never has to speculate and since He sees the heart (1 Sam 16:7) and no man can serve two masters (Matt 6:24), you can rest assured that however you may be able to successfully convince another human being that things aren’t as they seem, God has full access to both your actions and your motives and you’re either promoting His Reputation or protecting your own.


In her article, “The Difference Between Guilt and Conviction,” Jeanne Harrison, a staff writer at Grace Church in Orlando, does a great job of shutting down all the white noise and allowing the  Truth that is central to this whole debate be heard in a way that’s easy to hear and understand…

Here’s the difference between guilt and conviction: guilt is not willing to pay the price of repentance. Guilt wants to make the problem go away as painlessly as possible because guilt’s primary focus is me. What will they think of me? How will the consequences impact me?

Conviction focuses on God. We begin to experience conviction when our hearts are grieved not solely because we might lose our job, or our spouse, or our standing, but because we have broken fellowship with God. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 Paul captures the difference between guilt and conviction by describing two different kinds of sorrow. He writes, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

The question is, why are you lamenting over your sin? Is it because you fear losing the things of the world—the respect of your boss, the esteem of performing perfectly, the pleasure of sin itself? If so, you are experiencing worldly sorrow. Or are you pained because you have personally grieved God’s heart? This kind of godly sorrow takes us straight to the cross—to repentance, restoration, and life.

In order for me to repent, I had to care more about my relationship with God than I did about my reputation.

Again, you’re hearing the question: “Do you pull over?”

If your primary concern is your relationship with Christ and the way you’re making Him look in the eyes of those who are on the outside looking in, then your priorities will be reflected in your actions and you’re either avoiding a bad situation altogether, or you’re reinforcing both your resolve to obey and  the Reputation of your King by establishing some accountability so everything can be seen for what it truly is and you can be successful where you might otherwise be prone to fail (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:9-12; Gal 6:1-2; Heb 10:24; 13:17; 1 Pet 5:5).

IV) Conclusion

Listen, being born again translates to more than just the ability to avoid the otherwise inevitable punishment awaiting you in hell. It’s a Divine suite of perks, advantages and opportunities that can be categorized under four headings: Purpose, Perspective, Peace and Power.

Your sense of Purpose is improved because you know that it’s God working in and through you (Phil 2:13).

Your perspective is different because you’re now not viewing things exclusively according to your circumstances, but you’re seeing things in the context of how God is moving (Ps 139:16; Jn 5:17; Eph 2:10).

You’re not as apt to be anxious because you know that God is in charge and you have access to a Divine Source of Strength that allows you to endure and excel in ways that go beyond what you’re capable of on your own (Is 41:10; Jn 14:12; Col 1:29).

What does it mean to be saved?

The Holy Spirit is living in and through you.

How do you get it done?

You believe and you believe in a way where you’re not just changing your mind, rather you let God change you by believing in your heart.

And how do you know you’re saved?

You pull over when God motions you to stop and you change the way you’re driving.

Again, for more detail and Scripture, head out to muscularchristianityonline.com and look under the Podcast Show Notes.

I’m Bruce Gust. This is Muscular Christianity.

Let’s go make a difference.