Stand Your Ground Or Prepare For A Christian Cleansing

 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are actively being challenged by those seeking to remove Christianity from our country. Many of the atheists challenging our first amendment right of religious liberty believe that freedom of religion means freedom from religion.

In recent weeks I have talked with you about atheists threatening to sue a small pizza shop for offering a discount on food if customers bring in a church bulletin and a threat of a lawsuit for a high school in Georgia whose coaches pray with their players. Now let’s talk about Orange County, Florida.

Troy Schmidt had been the volunteer chaplain for the Olympia High School football team. He was beginning his seventh year serving the team. For years Pastor Schmidt’s church took care of the football team. They served the team huge pre-game meals and loved just serving and caring for the players and coaches.

Before the start of this season, Schmidt received a call from school officials. Schmidt learned he was no longer permitted to be the team chaplain. In fact, all chaplains were removed from Orange county sports teams.

School spokesperson Shari Bobinski said this:

Students are more than welcome to lead their own prayers but our faculty and staff cannot be involved nor can we bring in an outside chaplain.

The school district sent out a memo to further clarify their position. The memo noted that Bible verses and references to the Bible are banned on school property. Bible verses are also prohibited on clothing produced by the school. And songs with religious lyrics may not be used in school-related videos.

Who is behind all this? The same group I have been talking with you about for the past several weeks…the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). One threat of a lawsuit and the Orange County School System collapsed.

A recent article noted that the FFRF sends out about 1,000 demand letters each year. However, they only have the budget to litigate about 12 cases each year. We simply cannot be so quick to cave in for a simple demand letter threatening to sue. We need some followers of Christ with backbones to stand up to this constant infringement by the FFRF.

Todd Starnes, who first reported on this incident had it right. He referred to this attack as a Christian cleansing. Our churches need to support these businesses that are being attacked. If we don’t speak up and get involved, we will find much more of this cleansing taking place all across our country.

Pizza and Atheists

Well…they’re at it again…atheists threatening to sue. This time you won’t believe the reason.

Steven Rose lives in Arkansas. He owns a small town pizza shop. He’s not large like Pizza Hut or Dominos. He is a small time, small town pizza shop. Steven decided to offer a 10% discount for folks who come into his restaurant and bring a church bulletin from any church service. What started out as a simple way to gain customers has turned into a business nightmare.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is now claiming that Stephen and his pizza shop have violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the FFRF spokesperson, the Civil Rights Act requires places of public accommodation to offer their services to customers without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. Therefore, if Steven doesn’t stop this 10% discount practice the FFRF is threatening to sue.

Is Steven really violating the Civil Rights Act? Hiram Sasser from the Liberty Institute says of course not. Sasser said this:

…if what FFRF is saying is true, restaurants and other businesses would be precluded from giving veterans and military members discounts because that would technically be discriminating based on veteran status.

Steven gave one final thought on this issue. Here is his statement:

The 75 cents that somebody saves when they bring in a church bulletin – is that really what they [the FFRF] need to be spending their money on? How about spending their money helping the homeless?

Let me answer that for you Steven. The FFRF is not interested in helping you or in helping the homeless. They are interested in bullying you and others to get their way. They realize that you don’t have the finances to defend against a lawsuit and they hope that you will simply give in for another quick FFRF wins. Another Christian business stopped in its tracks.

Again, I am amazed that a group of folks like the FFRF, who don’t believe in God, will spend money and time trying to shut down folks who believe in God. Why spend money fighting against something you don’t believe in? I can’t help but wonder if deep down inside the FFRF and other groups like this are fearful that God really does exist. Otherwise, why fight against a God they don’t believe in?

Let’s continue to be vocal about our first amendment right for religious liberty. To be silent simply allows groups like the FFRF to continuously chip away at our religious liberty. Keep engaged and continue to defend our right of religious liberty.

I’m So Glad We Met

Do you ever just get tired hearing about divorce? I sure do. We hear the statistics almost daily on how many marriages fail. We hear about the children dealing with the aftermath of a broken family. We hear about folks who say marriage just isn’t for them. Some of these folks simply choose to live together to see how things work out.

Mexico is now considering two-year marriage contracts. The contracts simply expire. If the marriage is going well, you can renew your contract. If not, the marriage neatly ends.

Psychology Today also had a recent article in support of term marriages. The author said that the term marital contract with a renewal option idea holds considerable potential to create conditions for free choice, communication and negotiation…

Today I want to take you on a different direction and tell you about Don and Maxine Simpson. According to one of their grandchildren after Don and Maxine were married they became inseparable.

Several weeks ago Don’s health began to slip after he took a fall. During the same time, Maxine’s cancer took a turn for the worse. Suddenly, Don and Maxine found themselves dying next to each other in separate hospital beds. But what happened next is remarkable.

On my blog you can see pictures of Don and Maxine dying together but holding hands. You see, they had been married for sixty-two years and really were inseparable…even as they lay dying. One of the grandchildren taking care of Don and Maxine reported that she heard Maxine take her last breath and she was gone. Maxine had died.

A short time later this same grandchild accompanied health care workers who removed Maxine’s body from the room. Here’s what the grandchild reported:

I walked them out with her body, walked back to check on grandpa and he quit breathing as soon as her body left the room. He left with her and they passed four hours apart from each other.

This story is a word picture of the definition of the commitment of marriage. This is what scripture speaks about in Mark chapter 10, verse 8, where we read this:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

Don and Maxine had become one flesh. What God had joined nobody was going to separate. Congratulations to Don and Maxine for understanding what marriage commitment means and for modeling that to the rest of the world.

Don’t Threaten Me

It is time for believers in Christ to speak up. We have remained silent long enough and are paying the consequences of that silence. Groups such as the American Humanist Association (AHA) are forcing their way into areas that are far beyond where they should be going. In some instances the AHA has no right to push for their beliefs but under the threat of a lawsuit many organizations give in without a fight.

In our own backyard of Gainesville, Georgia, the AHA is taking aim at Chestatee High School. The AHA sent a letter threatening a lawsuit against Hall County Schools because some of their coaches were praying with team members. The AHA claimed an unnamed concerned citizen had contacted them. So, one unnamed person is going to push around the entire Hall County School System? I don’t think so…not in Hall County, Georgia. Here’s a quote from a recent report about this incident.

More than 200 people turned out in defiance of the self-described atheist group early Wednesday morning for an impromptu prayer rally in the middle of the Chestatee High School football field.

Good for Chestatee High School! You see, organizations such as the AHA believe that a coach and student praying together is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause that sprung from the first amendment. But let’s review the first amendment. Here is a portion:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

The AHA (and many groups like them) far over reach claiming the Establishment Clause covers far more than it actually does. They count on simple lawsuit threats to get their way. They are bullies. It is actually the AHA that is prohibiting the free exercise of religion in this case, not the staff and students at Chestatee High School.

In fact Chief Justice Rehnquist said this about intrusion into areas of religious liberty in a 2005 ruling:

[We] find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.” Id. at 684 (citing Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 313–14 (1952).

The Chief Justice is right. The AHA is actually asking the Hall County School System to be hostile toward religion. Stand up and do as the folks in Hall County are doing. Tell the atheist organizations that try to prohibit your exercise of religious freedom that you will not comply.

Representative Doug Collins of the ninth district in Georgia summed it up this issue with the atheists in Hall County with this statement:

This morning, while Chestatee students gathered on their football field to support their school leadership and exercise their rights, unspeakable human rights atrocities continued to happen across the world in places that have no regard at all for religious freedom. It’s utterly disgusting that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, a bunch of Washington lawyers are finding the time to pick on kids in Northeast Georgia. I want the football players and all the students at CHS to know I support you, I’m here for you, and yes, I’m praying for you.

We’re with you too CHS faculty, staff, and students. Stand your ground and don’t let anyone rob you of your First Amendment right to exercise your religious freedom.

What A Sunburn Taught Me About Sin

Recently I spent the afternoon swimming with my family. My wife asked if I wanted some sunscreen but being a tough guy I declined. As the day progressed, I felt my skin starting to tingle a tiny bit and thought about getting the sunscreen but figured we wouldn’t be at the pool much longer.

That night I turned on the shower and stepped in. As soon as I did, it felt like tiny needles penetrating my skin. I quickly looked and discovered my skin was all red. Yes…the tough guy who declined the sunscreen was burned all over.

But sunburns don’t happen all at once. They happen slowly. They sneak up on you. You’re doing fine all day at the pool but when you get home the pain starts. If you could really feel the effects of the sun right away, you would get out of the sun, go sit in the shade or even put on that sunscreen. Instead, because sunburns happen so gradually, we are often caught unaware until the damage has been done.

As I was thinking about this, I began to think about sin. If we immediately knew the damage sin does to our lives we wouldn’t let sin anywhere near us. If instantly we could see sin’s damage to our family, sin’s destruction of our character and reputation, the divorces caused by sin, the alcohol or drug dependencies, or the time in jail that sin can bring we would run from sin as fast as we could. The problem is that sin is like sunburn. It takes awhile before you can really see the damage.

I’m reminded of this verse from Psalm, chapter 1. Here is what it says:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.

Walk, stand, sit…there is a progression here. When it comes to sin, we’re told in this verse not to walk in step with the wicked because what happens next? We find ourselves now standing in sin. Then we find ourselves sitting in sin. Just like the sunburn, sin sneaks up on us. We were walking, we get pulled in to sin and we are now standing, and now finally trapped, we are sitting in sin.

So, stay out of a spiritual sunburn situation. When you see sin just keep walking. In fact, just run.

What My Chainsaw Taught Me About Life

Not long ago I decided to tackle a job I was dreading. I had several trees that had fallen in my yard and it was time to cut them up and split the wood. I got out my chain saw, filled it with gasoline and bar oil, put on my safety equipment and was ready to start. The job I had been dreading was finally getting done. I started the chainsaw and made my first cut. I was about halfway through the cut when the tree shifted in a direction I hadn’t expected. Not a big shift…just enough to pinch the chainsaw blade. In other words, the chainsaw was now pinched between the tree and the piece of wood I was cutting and I couldn’t get the chainsaw out. It was stuck in the tree. Suddenly, the work was stopped. I hadn’t expected this.

I spent a considerable amount of time trying to insert wedges, trying to reposition a tree I discovered I really couldn’t move, and just becoming frustrated at being forced to deal with the unexpected. The plans I made for the day were falling apart. Things just weren’t working like I had planned.

How about you? Do you think you have your life planned? Do you think you have everything calculated and life is going to progress just as you have it planned? Well, get ready. I can just about guarantee that something is going to pinch your chainsaw blade. You will run into health issues, marriage difficulties, problems with your children, financial problems, or a host of other blade pinchers. I’m not saying this to scare you. I’m simply saying this because it’s usually how life works.

For believers in Christ, we have a wonderful promise when we are confronted with these life pinchers. In I Peter, chapter 5 we read this:

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

Did you hear that? Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you. Don’t give some of your worries but give all of your worries. Not some of the things that are bothering you but all of them. When something happens to pinch your life, remember this promise and do it…give your worries and cares to God.

But let’s not forget the second part of this verse. We’re not told just to give our worries to God, we’re told to give our worries to God because He cares for us. What a wonderful promise. In times of difficulty we serve a God who actually cares for us and desires to take our cares and worries away from us…to relieve that pinch we are feeling.

So instead of becoming frustrated and upset with unexpected situations in your life, take this promise to heart and give your cares to God because He cares for you. See what a difference this one action makes in your life.

Why This Accident Made Me Smile

This week I was on my way home from work and was stopped at a red light. The car at the light in front of me was also stopped and blocking much of the entrance to a business I was trying to enter. I was trying to figure out if there was enough room between my car and the one in front of me so that I could squeeze into the parking lot.

As I was making those mental measurements, I was suddenly thrown forward and caught by my seatbelt. A quick glance in my mirror and I realized a truck had just smashed into the back of my car and was pushing me into the car in front of me. I heard metal bending, saw steam start to come from under my hood and felt the pain from being thrown forward at a high velocity.

The end of the story is that a driver coming up behind me hadn’t realized that everyone was stopped at a red light and had just slammed into my car pushing me into the car in front of me. In short order the police, fire, and ambulance were on the scene and the little area of the street was a flurry of activity. It was a hot day and I was standing on the sidewalk watching all the activity. A woman from one of the shops along the street came up to me and asked if she could get me a glass of cold water. All of a sudden my mind left the accident and focused on the kindness of this woman. She didn’t have to leave what she was doing and come check on me. She made the offer out of kindness.

Remember the verse in Matthew 10 that says this: And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.

You see, I’m certain Christ really knew the impact of giving to someone else…the power of simply kindness. When the woman at the accident asked me if I wanted some cold water, it really wasn’t about the water. It was about a woman showing an act of kindness to someone she didn’t even know. At that moment there were no racial differences, social status concerns, or philosophical differences. There was simply a woman who wanted to show she cared about me and extended an offer to help.

I’ll never know this woman’s name but she has made me look at Matthew Chapter 10 through totally different eyes. I hope that as you have opportunities, you, too, will offer a cup of water whenever you can.