Friday, January 23, 2009

Supporting a President You Disagree with

I would like to address a question that I’ve been asked frequently since the election of our new 44th President Barack Obama. The question is, “Can we support a President with whom we have serious disagreements?”

Before I answer that question, let me emphasize the fact that I do have serious disagreements with President Barack Obama. These disagreements are on crucial issues.

For instance, I disagree with President Obama on the issue of life. Though he thinks that determining when life begins is a question he can’t answer[1]; he adamantly defends the right of a women to abort her child.[2] To put it another way, he is not committed to putting an end to the painful killing of innocent human beings. I also disagree with Obama’s lauding the gay Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson[3], who, according to the Washington Post, left his wife and daughters to fulfill his lust for another man.[4] I disagree with President Obama on the issue of global warming[5], just as I disagreed with Al Gore on the issue of Y2K. If you’re spending money on mythology, it precludes the possibly of spending those same resources on issues that affect the poor and the downtrodden. I disagree with President Obama in lauding T.D. Jakes[6], who has clearly manipulated and pillaged the poor with his silly occult metaphysical constructs disguised in the garb of biblical pretext. I disagree with President Obama in his mischaracterizations of the Bible, including his statement that Bible suggests slavery is ok.[7] I disagree with President Obama’s definition of sin, which he says is “being out of alignment with my values.”[8]

Despite all of the above disagreements, the question still remains, “Can I support a President with whom I have strong disagreements?” The answer is this: Absolutely! Yes I can. Just as Rick Warren prayed for Obama at the inauguration, which was quite a mesmerizing event, I think we should pray for and support our new President.

Here’s what the apostle Paul said, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Rom 13:1). That’s a foundational principle, and we should underscore that principle in our minds.

We should submit to and, in some sense, support political leaders with whom we strongly disagree; unless of course they command us to do specifically what God forbids or prevents us from doing. If he’s asking us to do something that God forbids, or if he’s preventing us from doing something that God demands, obviously we can’t accept that and there is biblical precedent for that.

Remember the Jewish ruling regime that commanded the apostles not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. What did Peter and John do? They said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). Of course what did they see and hear? The saw and heard from the resurrected Christ. Therefore, they were first committed to Christ in a milieu in which Caesar was hailed as Lord, they were going to say, “No! “Christ is Lord” and He is our ultimate King and Ruler, and we are going to obey Him before all other things.

Here’s the bottom line, the Bible commands us to pray for our governing authorities. If you look at what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2: 1-2, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” So again we have an opportunity to be good citizens, and we may disagree and thankfully in our country we can have our disagreements heard, we can make a difference; we have a place a the table. In fact we should be involved in political debate, education, and the arts, but ultimately we should serve our King, and help extend His kingdom, because there is going to come a time when the nations are ruled by Jesus Christ.

God himself will live with us and be our God and we will be His people. He says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4). We heard all sorts of soaring rhetoric about what we can do as human beings, but the bottom line is this, we live in a cursed creation, there’s always going to be turmoil and trouble, but we can look beyond that to the hope and the promise which is Paradise lost is going to become Paradise restored. In that day, we are going to have true peace and prosperity, and we’re going to be able to do things then that we can’t do now. We look forward to that which we do not have, and we wait for it patiently and in the meantime: “Yes!” The answer is, we can pray for and support President Barack Obama.

1. CNN: CNN Live Event/Special: Saddleback Presidential Candidates Forum, Saturday, August 16, 2008.

2. Barack Obama Website, Issues: Women ( Accessed January 22, 2009.

3. Laurie, Goodstein, “Gay Bishop Is Asked to Say Prayer at Inaugural Event”, The New York Times, January 12, 2009 ( Accessed January 22, 2009.

4. Alan Cooperman, "A Divided Episcopal Church?; Conservative Faction Opposed to Decisions on Gays Seeks Own Province, "The Washington Post, August 09, 2003, Saturday, Final Edition, Section A, Pg. A03

5. Barack Obama Website, Issues: Energy and Environment ( Accessed January 22, 2009.

6. Barack Obama Website, News and Speeches: Call to Renewal Keynote Address” ( Accessed January 22, 2009.

7. Ibid.

8. Steven Waldman, Beliefnet, “Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani”, a transcript of a 2004 interview Obama gave Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani when he was running for U.S. Senate in Illinois. ( Accessed January 22, 2009.

The Secret/ Word of Faith Movement/ Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century

One of the reasons that the Word of Faith movement has become so popular in Christian and secular-settings is that everyone wants to know the “secret.” Everyone wants to have the “magic bullet;” you know, the secret to health; the secret to wealth; the secret to successful relationships; the secret to making a fortune on Wall Street –– if that is even possible anymore –– the secret to maintaining your perfect weight. The list is endless. Thus, when Rhonda Byrne informed the world she had discovered “the Secret to life”–– a secret harnessed by “the greatest people in history: Plato, Shakespeare…Lincoln… Einstein”— the world stood up and took notice. Within weeks, The Secret topped bestseller lists and morphed into a cultural phenomenon. In fact, on January 15, 2009, their going to have a special theater event, hosted by Lisa Gibbons entitled, Beyond the Secret. So it’s taken on a life of its own because it gives simple formulas or fast food formulas for very complex problems.

You ask, “What is the Secret?” Well, according to Rhonda Byrne it’s “the law of attraction.” Byrne continues, “The greatest teachers who have ever lived have told us that the law of attraction is the most powerful law in the Universe.” Byrne also adds, “You create your life through your thoughts.” Byrne also claims that “the Creative Process used in The Secret, which was taken from the New Testament in the Bible, is an easy guideline for you to create what you want in three simple steps. Ask, Believe, Receive.”

Does this sound familiar? Kenneth Hagin had the exact same formula as the father of the Faith Movement.

Byrne points to herself as a prime example. To transform herself from fat to thin, she thought thin thoughts, and did not so much as look at fat people, she says, “If you see people who are overweight, do not observe them, but immediately switch your mind to the picture of you in your perfect body and feel it.” As a result she says, “I now maintain my perfect weight of 116 pounds, and I can eat whatever I want.” According to The Secret, the error is to think that food is responsible for weight gain. In short, for Rhonda Byrne thoughts are the primary cause of everything––whether good or bad. On one hand, thin thoughts produce thin bodies; on the other, six million Jews brought the horrors of the holocaust upon themselves. According to The Secret, “The law of attraction never slips up.”[1]

For Rhonda Byrne, the genie that causes the universe to give you whatever you want is the law of attraction; however, here’s where I want to turn a corner, for Joel Osteen –– who is communicating from a quasi-Christian pulpit –– it is the word of faith; that is our genie. Osteen is committed to the notion that faith is a force, that words are the containers of the force, and that through the force of faith, one can create their own reality. As he explains in his mega best seller, Your Best Life Now, “You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out, you give birth to it. This is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you’re saying is good or bad, positive or negative.”

While I want to make clear that Osteen and Byrne have noteworthy differences, they are united in the belief that the force of faith is so powerful that even God –– however you may define him –– is bound by its irrevocable reality.

If occult sources, such as those referenced in The Secret, pose the greatest threat to the body of Christ from without, I contend that the deadly doctrines disseminated by these prosperity preachers pose the greatest threat to Christianity from within. To avert this crisis, a paradigm shift of major proportions is desperately needed––a shift from perceiving God as a means to an end, to recognition that He is the end.

And while change must come, it clearly will not come easily. Those who are dispensing spiritual cyanide by the mega-dose occupy powerful platforms within evangelical Christianity. They’re like the popes in the medieval church. If people like John Hus dare speak out against indulgence, or John Wycliffe speak out against transubstantiation and indulges, if Wycliffe dared to take the Bible and translate it into the language of the people, there were consequences. That’s why Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed, burned and ashes spread to the wind. That’s why Hus was burned at the stake in the midst of his writings. That’s why William Tyndale died; his body ablaze and cried out, “O Lord, open the eyes of England’s King.” The problem then was that people were biblically illiterate because there were no Bibles in English. Today we have another problem, we have all kinds of Bibles, but we are not reading them. Therefore, we are falling prey to a brand new generation of prosperity popes. They control vast resources, and stand to lose multiplied millions of dollars, if they are exposed. The stakes are so high that those who are plunging Christianity into crisis are willing to do and say virtually anything to silence opposition.

Paul Crouch, founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), went so far as to suggest that if God does not kill “heresy hunters” like me, he will. Benny Hinn took it a step further. On TBN’s “Praise the Lord” program, he said, “You have attacked me. Your children will pay for it.”

Despite whatever threats they may make, despite consequences, I am absolutely resolutely convinced that Christianity In Crisis––The 21st Century is a book that needed to be written. A book that I pray will serve not only to expose the cancer that is ravaging the body of Christ from within, but will also serve to effect enduring changes among those who dare to take the sacred name “Christian” upon their lips.

When I first wrote about this subject beginning in 1990 with the original Christianity in Crisis, I have often said if I knew what I would face as a result of writing that book, I would have never written it. A lot of people immediately jumped on me and said that is cowardice. What I was trying to communicate to people is simply this, God gives us the grace we need and often times He does not give us the grace we need until the moment we need it.

If I took it on the chin as a result of writing the original Christianity in Crisis what in the world would posses me to write Christianity In Crisis––The 21st Century? I answer that question and address a lot of other issues on the Word of Faith Movement on the January 13th and 14th shows of the Bible Answer Man. You can access that off our front page under the “Today’s Broadcast” link.

Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century

Twenty years ago I began working on a book that would become a runaway best seller. It won the prestigious ```Gold Medallion Book Award for excellence in Evangelical Christian literature. That book was titled Christianity in Crisis. It unmasked the fatal flaws of a movement that threatens to undermine the very foundations of the faith once for all delivered for the saints.

Back when I originally wrote Christianity in Crisis Kenneth Hagin was the prime mover behind the message, while his platform was certainly enormous, and his influence global. There is a new breed of prosperity teachers today that have taken his preaching and his practices to unimaginable heights, or maybe more appropriately unimaginable depths. Indeed men who followed in his train like Joel Osteen or women like Joyce Meyer are living proof that error begets `` error and heresy begets heresy. As such, they have taken the crisis spawned in Christianity by Hagin, and popularized by disciples like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn, and took it to levels I could have scarcely imagined when I wrote the original book in the 20th century.

This is one of the reasons I have now released Christianity in Crisis 21st Century. I believe this book like its predecessor needed to be written. In the end, it’s not as much about the faith teachers as it is about faith followers, who are inevitably distracted, disillusioned, discouraged, and some even die. My heart aches for the parent, who puts his dead baby on ice, and in the midst of tears, drove 350 miles because he trusted the testimony of faith preachers who were touting resurrections from the dead. I equally grieve for the millions who have left faith churches in the midst of failed faith formulas. Some conclude that God must not love them; others question the integrity of the Christian enterprise.

The tragedy is that all too often we look for God in all the wrong places. The real experience is found not in counterfeit formulas but in Christian fundamentals. Think for a moment about prayer, rather than seeking formulas through which we can get things from God, we must be ever mindful that prayer is an opportunity for developing intimacy with the lover of our souls. If we were honest, most of us have learned to pray backwards. We hurry and rush into God’s presence with techniques and incessant babblings, and in the process we drown out the very one who’s voice we so long to hear. All too often we want God to move the fence posts and enlarge our houses and lands, but God wants something far better for us. He wants us to be still, so He can enlarge the territory of our hearts. He sent us sixty-six love letters etched in heavenly handwriting, and the more we meditate upon those Words, the clearer His voice will become when we meditate in the sounds of our silence.

As the original Christianity in Crisis has impacted the lives of literally thousands of people from Nairobi, Kenya to Seoul, Korea, from Beijing, China to Los Angeles, California, it’s my prayer that Christianity in Crisis 21st Century will likewise turn the hearts of millions towards home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Richard Neuhaus on Abortion

Yesterday before I did the Bible Answer Man Broadcast, the associate editor of the Christian Research Journal, Wayne Mayhall, alerted me by email to the passing of Richard John Neuhaus.

Wayne wrote in his email, “What a great man and great writer was Richard Neuhaus. His powerful and poignant pen will be sorely missed in the ongoing struggles between the feuding cultures of life and death.” Wayne then included in the email one of Neuhaus’ speeches, it was given just last year (2008) as the closing address at the National Right to Life Committee in Arlington, VA.

I’m tempted to provide the whole address here, as it is that powerful; however, I will include only a few selections of it below for the sake of space. If you want to read the whole address, and I encourage you to do so, please see it at this link on the National Right to Life Website (( Richard Neuhaus said,

…We contend, and we contend relentlessly, for the dignity of the human person, of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, destined from eternity for eternity—every human person, no matter how weak or how strong, no matter how young or how old, no matter how productive or how burdensome, no matter how welcome or how inconvenient. Nobody is a nobody; nobody is unwanted. All are wanted by God, and therefore to be respected, protected, and cherished by us…

We shall not weary, we shall not rest, as we stand guard at the entrance gates and the exit gates of life, and at every step along way of life, bearing witness in word and deed to the dignity of the human person—of every human person.

Against the encroaching shadows of the culture of death, against forces commanding immense power and wealth, against the perverse doctrine that a woman’s dignity depends upon her right to destroy her child, against what St. Paul calls the principalities and powers of the present time…

It has been a long journey, and there are still miles and miles to go. Some say it started with the notorious Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 when, by what Justice Byron White called an act of raw judicial power, the Supreme Court wiped from the books of all fifty states every law protecting the unborn child. But it goes back long before that. Some say it started with the agitation for “liberalized abortion law” in the 1960s when the novel doctrine was proposed that a woman cannot be fulfilled unless she has the right to destroy her child. But it goes back long before that. It goes back to the movements for eugenics and racial and ideological cleansing of the last century…

The contention between the culture of life and the culture of death is not a battle of our own choosing. We are not the ones who imposed upon the nation the lethal logic that human beings have no rights we are bound to respect if they are too small, too weak, too dependent, too burdensome. That lethal logic, backed by the force of law, was imposed by an arrogant elite that for almost forty years has been telling us to get over it, to get used to it. But “We the People,” who are the political sovereign in this constitutional democracy, have not gotten over it, we have not gotten used to it, and we will never, we will never ever, agree that the culture of death is the unchangeable law of the land…

We do not know, we do not need to know, how the battle for the dignity of the human person will be resolved. God knows, and that is enough. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta and saints beyond numbering have taught us, our task is not to be successful but to be faithful…

Richard Neuhaus has gone to this final resting place after succumbing to cancer at age 72. Now we are left to carry on the fight for the millions whose blood yet cries out from the soil stained by the blood of the most innocent among us. If we fall on this issue, we will fall on any issue. This is the very issue if you look at the Roman Empire that had a great impact on its demise. We must stand on this issue. Our brother has gone home to be with the Lord we need to be faithful and vigilant. That means that you need to able to communicate what you believe and why you believe on the subject of life and death. For many free downloadable articles and recommendations for books please see our Website section on Abortion under the Need Answers Link.

Legacy Reading Plan for the Bible

Since this is the first full week of the New Year; I wanted to ask all of you a question: Are you reading through the Word of God this year? Have you made a New Year’s resolution to read the entire Bible? If you have, I hope you have my Legacy Reading Plan.
This plan is unique in that it requires you to process through the entire books of the Bible, rather than piecing together bits of books. The goal is to comprehend the essence of what God is communicating by reading each book as a whole. The exception is Psalms and Proverbs. Psalms constituted a hymn book or devotional guide for ancient Israel and, likewise, our goal will be to meditate on three individual psalms each week, thus progressing through the Psalms once every year. Since the book of Proverbs is replete with principles for successful daily living, the Legacy Reading Plan is setup to read one chapter of proverbs each day, thus progressing through Proverbs once a month.

Now I have a confession: I was so busy on January 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, that I didn’t start my Bible reading with the Legacy Reading Plan, though this wasn’t a problem. On Sunday January 4th, I spent a couple of hours devoted to the Word of God. Isn’t this just how we read a regular book though? Sometimes you get into a book, and you read twenty chapters. Other times you have enough time to read a couple, but you read through a book in a fairly rapid period of time. In the same way you can read through the Bible systematically knowing where you need to get to each month.

In the winter you read approximately 249 chapters; you read the Hebrew Pentateuch and the Hebrew poetry. In January you read Genesis and Exodus. In February you read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In March you read Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. In the Spring you read another 249 chapters; in April we’ll be reading Joshua, Judges, Ruth and 1st and 2nd Samuel. In May we’ll be reading 1st and 2nd Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles. In June we read Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. In other words, we’re going to read through Hebrew history in the Spring. In the Summer we read through the Hebrew Prophets, and in the Fall, we read through the New Testament. This is a plan that allows you to read systematically through the Word of God.

Even at a minimalist level, everyone reading this should do that. We have 66 love letters, etched in heavenly handwriting. God is communicating to us and we have the Word of God in our own language. We take this for granted. Do you realize that before John Wycliffe the Bible was simply not available in the English language? Do you realize that one of the greatest accomplishments of Luther was translating the Bible into German so that the common person could read the Word of God? We have today a legacy of an English Bible, not everyone had that prior to John Wycliffe, and prior to the invention of movable type, Bibles were simply not available to the common people throughout the land.

Today we have Bibles of every color, shape and size, and sometime go to church color coordinated with our Bibles; but fewer and fewer people are getting into the Word of God or getting the Word of God into them. I hope that you make one resolution in 2009, and that is to read through the Word of God, to absorb it, to get into it. If you do this by this time next year, you will have done something most people in America have not done, and you will focus yourself in on the primary principle of the Reformation, and that is Sola Scriptura. Our ultimate authority is not what I or anyone else says, but ultimately the authority lies in the inerrant Word of God. God has given us wonderful translations in our time, let’s make use of them and solve the greatest problem in the world of Evangelicalism today, and that is Biblical illiteracy.

For a copy of the Legacy Reading Plan go to our Website at and type Legacy Reading Plan in the search engine.

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century/Guaranteed Healing

In 2009 we’re going to be releasing my new book, Christianity in Crisis 21st Century, and in that vein I want to address something a lot of people ask me about. You hear the mantra over and over again, “By His Stripes you are healed.” You hear this repeated breathlessly by Christians; however, these words extracted from Isaiah 53:5 focus on spiritual rather than physical healing.

A quick look at the context makes it crystal clear that Isaiah had spiritual rather than physical healing in mind. Christ was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed. Peter in context builds on this when he says, “He Himself borne our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).

While healing for the body is not refereed to in Isaiah 53:5, it is referred to it in the verse immediately preceding it. In context, Isaiah writes, “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him and afflicted.” Physical healing here is not only clear in context but it’s affirmed by the gospels where it is given a very significant clarification or qualification.

We read in Matthew 8:16-17, “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Him, and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” In other words, the healing here was fulfilled during the ministry of Jesus Christ, and does not guarantee healing today.

One final note, in a very real sense, Christ’s atonement on the cross does extend to physical healing. It is in this sense there one be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Rev 21:4); however as the apostle Paul points out we hope for what we do not yet have and we wait for it patiently (Rom. 8:25). In the meantime, we’ll all experience sickness and suffering. Indeed all those who live before Christ returns will all die of their last disease. The death rate is one per person and were all gonna make it.

5 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009

As we approach the New Year, my question to all of you is, “How are you going to improve your life in 2009?”

When I picked up a copy of U.S. News and World Report the cover story was 50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2009. Some of their suggestions are: Investigate tales of Edgar Allen Poe, Be a Microblogger, Do a Crossword puzzle, Watch TV free online, Choose Obama Stocks, Spread Tolerance, Learn to Play Bridge, Play music video games, and Read the book before you go to the movie. Well I can’t give you 50 ways to improve your life but I can give you 5.

The first way is to make a paradigm shift. Stop seeing prayer as merely a way of obtaining your requests. Start seeing prayer as a means of enjoying the riches of a relationship with God.

Second, confess your sins daily. Every single prayer, including the Lord’s Prayer, will bounce right off the ceiling if there is unforgiveness in your heart. This is precisely why Jesus ended his public sermon on prayer with, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:14-15).

Third, get into the Bible. God’s will is reveled in His Word. Thus the only way to know His will is to know His Word. The more we meditate on His Word, the clearer His voice will be as we daily commune with Him in prayer.

Fourth, discover your secret place. The secret to prayer is secret prayer. Your public presence is a direct reflection of your private prayer life. If you spend time in the secret place you will exude peace in the midst of life’s storms. If you don’t you will be a poster child for busy-anity not Christianity.

Fifth, make prayer a priority. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. As Jesus put it, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24) My experience in teaching memory for over two decades demonstrates that if you faithfully practice a new disciple for twenty-one days it may well stay with you for the rest of your life.

Well, it certainly is my prayer that 2009 will be a banner year in your life as you prepare yourself with a brand new life with King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Over the past year, we’ve had the experience of having some people in our home who are very elderly and once they were able to lead themselves, walk, drive and now someone else leads them. Their eyes grow dim, their memory falters, their world becomes smaller and smaller but if you have Jesus Christ in your life, if you built a relationship with Him over all the years the best is yet to come! One day you will have perfect eyesight again and you will live in a new heaven and new earth in which indwells righteousness. Christianity doesn’t give us a peaceful way to come to terms with death; it gives us something far greater, a way to overcome death through Christ’s resurrection.