In the days to come, Christians from all over the world will be celebrating the passion of Christ. It is indeed the focus of God's redemption. The cross speaks of so much we need to understand about God, ourselves, our need, our duty, and our hope.
It's most unfortunate the unfounded faith Americans over the years have placed in Big Government. Now we're seeing the negative results. Our founding fathers believed in a limited role for government.
Tertullian once said, "Just as Christ was crucified between two thieves, so this doctrine of justification is ever crucified between two opposite errors." Mankind has always rejected the liberty of the soul via two extremes: legalism and license.
Recently in a blog of comments underneath one of my op-ed pieces a well-meaning person wrote: "Mark, I love you like a brother, but these social issues are just distractions to keep us busy and away from sharing the Gospel." The person who wrote that was genuinely concerned I was neglecting my duty as a minister, while leading other Christians astray from their obligation as well. In other words, politics and preaching don't mix.
It's interesting that much of the focus today on the First Amendment has to do with the so-called "separation of church and state." Yet, following the first two clauses concerning the freedom of religion there are additional sections about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to peaceably assemble and petition for a redress of grievances.
In my home state of North Carolina, legislation has been introduced making it illegal for women to fully bear their breasts in public. The bill was introduced by Representatives Rayne Brown (R-Lexington) and Tim Moffitt (R-Asheville), in response to constituents concerns about topless rallies promoted by a group called Go Topless, an organization that's fighting for the so-called right of women to expose their breasts without violating any indecent exposure laws. They've already held topless protests in Asheville, North Carolina.
Comedian Robin Williams once argued, "If women ran the world, we wouldn't have wars…just intense negotiations every 28 days." Apparently that's no longer true since Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the decision that women should be allowed to participate in war in the same way as men. Women had previously been denied combat positions, but not anymore.
Ah, equality and love, who could possibly be against these? Certainly only haters, bigots and religious extremists would oppose or stifle their advancement in the cause for gay marriage. Yet, it's highly doubtful that even homosexual activists really believe what they so vigorously applauded in the President's speech – the belief that "if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
Most that know me well understand I love looking for rare and old out of print religious books. I've found some real treasures in antique stores over the years. Last Saturday, I found another amazing book, not a religious one, but one on American history. The book I found has a copyright of 1892 and is Elia W. Peattie's classic, The Story of America. I've already read the first couple of chapters of its more than 750 pages and the first paragraph alone, I thought, was gripping.
Seriously though, hymns are a blessed means of inspiration and worship for us. Andy Griffith once said, "You know when you're young you think you will always be. As you become more fragile, you reflect and you realize how much comfort can come from the past. Hymns can carry you into the future."  The Scriptures exhort us to "speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).
Like a Damocles sword, a sabre of defiance has always been raised against Jesus, from His birth to throughout His life to the present. Undeterred, Christ and His church continue marching forward victoriously. Those who resist the authority of the baby Jesus fight an unwarranted and futile war against Him.
Recently I saw a t-shirt that said, "The Virgin Mary was an Unwed Teenage Mother." That's true and it reminded me of an interruption that took place at a Quebec pro-life conference back in October of this year. A dozen pro-choice protesters descended upon an evangelical church where the conference was being held, chanting blasphemous slogans, one of which was a French pro-abortion sing-song against the Virgin Mary: "Oh, If Mary had known about abortion, we wouldn't have to deal with all this nonsense."
As Paramore tells it, One Sunday morning in the late 1960s after preaching a message on soul-winning, Clifton came to him and said he wanted to go soul-winning with his pastor. 'Preacher, I know where there's a whole nest of them,'" Clifton excitedly told Paramore. So he and Clifton set out one day together to find "a whole nest" of people who needed the Lord.
It was once an activity that was outlawed for decades. Today, however, it's officially sanctioned, easily accessible, popular, and has gained a strong foothold in American culture. Just this past week, a half billion dollar Powerball jackpot has been the stuff of everyday conversation, with people talking about what they would do with the money if they won.
Most people have heard the expression, "playing the race card." The concept has been bandied about in the media for several years. It typically refers to someone falsely alleging another person is racist in order to gain some political advantage or to draw their credibility into question.
In 1921, Dr. J.C. Fitzpatrick noticed an interesting document being auctioned off at an art gallery in New York. What Fitzpatrick bought for the Library of Congress at the price of $300 turned out to be George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, dating back to 1789. The document had been lost and stayed lost for over 130 years.
There's much America should learn from the Petraeus affair. Sexual immorality is an equal opportunity sin and rampant. It has serious negative consequences.
Sometimes God's people find themselves in the grip of negative forces far superior to themselves. It may be as it is for many conservative evangelicals, some Catholics, and many political activists who hoped to see a different result in this year's election, but now fear a righteous cause has irreparably failed. Whatever the situation, take a lesson from a Blue Jay in the talons of a Hawk. Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight.
As we rapidly approach Election Day, I've heard a number of my friends say that they just can't vote for the lesser of two evils. They will neither support Obama or Romney for president; instead they'll support a third party candidate or they won't vote.
Perry Noble is a choice servant of Christ, passionate for the souls of men. But in his recent blog, Noble argues against the church's involvement in politics. His arguments sound so spiritual. But his arguments misconstrue what many conservative evangelicals are actually trying to do today in the public arena.
Are you afraid of dying? You don't have to be in a life-threating situation to be afraid of death. Most people whenever they contemplate dying are afraid of it. It's the subject we like to avoid talking about.
I have never prayed publicly that the prayer wasn't offered in the name of Christ. But I have determined more than ever, God showing me grace, I will never do so. Moreover, I will not rest until my God-given, unalienable constitutional right to publicly pray according to the dictates of my own conscience is freely restored, not only for me, but for all people everywhere who cherish religious liberty.
Anything seemingly new today is popular and eagerly anticipated. Yet it's not the new that America needs to hunger so much as it is a restoration to the old. The message of judgment is nothing new, but if America doesn't heed that message of old and return to its religious moorings liberty cannot survive.
Drinking alcohol today is a commonly accepted way of life, despite the fact that it has become the accepted killer of our time. Alcohol is a drug that claims more addicts than any other drug in America. Still, Christians differ on the role of alcohol in society.
The denial of God has never been a part of America's heritage. But the current mythical view of the so-called "separation of church and state," which essentially removes any mention or acknowledgment of God and His Lordship from public life has been calamitously entrenched in the national psyche for way too long.