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Because our bodies matter to God—and not just in a moral sense—our rest matters to God, too. So much so, He built it into the rhythms of the universe.

Your Body, Your Spirit, and a Good Night’s Sleep – Why Rest Matters

Do you proclaim with the psalmist: “Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations” (Psalm 57:8)?

Do you climb out of bed each morning and sing with joy about God’s unfailing love?

But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)

If not, (and for the record, I rarely do), maybe it’s because we are among the one in three Americans who don’t get enough sleep. Seriously.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control declared a new public health crisis: sleep deprivation. Millions are failing night after night to get the recommended seven to nine hours of rest, putting them at increased risk for health problems from anxiety and depression to diabetes and heart disease.

By some estimates, widespread lack of sleep is costing American employers over $100 billion annually “in lost production, medical expenses, and sick leave.” More in-depth research finds that twenty straight hours without sleep is the equivalent of being legally drunk. And sleep specialists are sounding the alarm that “drowsy driving” is just as deadly as drunk driving—and more common.

So what’s behind this epidemic of sleep deprivation? Why are Americans these days so incapable of turning off the lights and going to bed? The answer is in our pockets.

A growing body of research demonstrates that the frequency of light produced by smart phones, laptops and tablets triggers the release of chemicals in our brains that tell us, “It’s time to wake up! Its morning!”

The dreary glow of screens also drains our concentration and creativity. A study in the journal Social Psychology reported that even having a smart phone nearby degraded the quality of subjects’ work and studies, because it reminded them of their online social circles.

So what do we do to counteract this perfect storm of sleep deprivation and tech addiction?

Writing at Motherboard, Kaleigh Rogers describes her radical solution: She banned screens from her home for a full month. No TV, computers, or smart phones. Cold turkey.

Unlike healthy eating and exercise—good habits that take weeks or months to make a difference—Rogers says her tech-free experiment yielded immediate and astonishing results.

The first few days were like a dream, she writes. “We’d come home, put on some music, cook dinner together, and then—unimaginably—we’d sit at the table and eat. After dinner, Stuart would play guitar while I read. Chores were done promptly and without hesitation. It was blissful.”

Okay, that’s all great. But BreakPoint isn’t a self-help program. So what’s all this got to do with a Christian worldview?

Well, let’s go back to the beginning. God created day and He created night. A time to work, and a time to rest. The Sabbath, remember, begins in the evening, and we enter into an earthly rest in anticipation of resting eternally in God’s presence.

Remember too that we’re not pure spirits. We’re embodied spirits. The state of our body affects the state of our spirit. It’s why we avoid drunkenness and bodily immorality. It’s why we try to stay fit.

It’s no wonder then, as Kate Shellnutt writes at Christianity Today, that those who get quality sleep report feeling closer to God and having better faith lives overall.

And also, as Charles Spurgeon said, “God gives us sleep to remind us we are not Him.” We have limits. He doesn’t. We lie down at night trusting in God’s care, open to Him speaking to us, trusting him to revive these earthen vessels of ours in the morning—ready once again to join with God in His work to restore all thing in Jesus.

Now I’m not saying give up your cell phone or Facebook (especially if you read BreakPoint on them). But I am saying don’t let them deprive you of God’s gift of sleep, and in turn all the personal interaction, productivity, creativity, and especially spiritual vitality that make us fully human as God intended.

(This commentary originally aired February 22, 2017.)

Resources:

God Wants You to Get Some Sleep

  • Kate Shellnutt
  • Christianity Today
  • January 22, 2017

What I Learned After Banning Screens From My Home for a Month

  • Kaleigh Rogers
  • vice.com
  • February 2, 2017

How Your Cell Phone Distracts You Even When You’re Not Using It

  • Justin Worland
  • com
  • December 4, 2014

1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep

  • Press release
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • February 18, 2016

Your Employees Are Exhausted, and Here’s Why

  • Whitney Roban, Ph.D
  • Thrive Global
  • December 4, 2016

The Organizational Cost of Insufficient Sleep

  • Nick van Dam and Els van der Helm
  • Thrive Global
  • December 12, 2016

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Religious Freedom, Lose on Appeal: ‘Art’ in the Eye of the Beholder?

The state of Oregon told a pair of bakers to make the cake or eat a ruinous fine. And sadly, a federal court agreed.

Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Religious Freedom, Lose on AppealNow stop me if you’ve heard this before: A same-sex couple asks a local bakery to make a wedding cake. The bakers, who are Christians, decline to do so on the grounds that it would violate their religious convictions.

The couple, feeling deeply aggrieved, files a complaint. The state civil rights agency finds for the same-sex couple and, in effect, forces the bakers to choose between their faith and their livelihood.

If you noticed my use of plural nouns so far, you may have guessed that I’m not talking about Jack Phillips, whose case was recently argued before the Supreme Court. No, this time I’m talking about Sweet Cakes by Melissa, and its owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein.

Not only did the Oregon Labor Commissioner rule against the Kleins, he imposed a ruinous fine on them of $135,000. A fine that high is the Commissioner telling the Kleins, not only are you wrong, you’re evil. You need to be put out of business.

The Kleins appealed the ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals, and last month the Court upheld the Oregon Labor Commissioner. While the outcome wasn’t surprising—Oregon is a very liberal state after all—there are some aspects of the opinion that are worth noting.

First is what wasn’t said by the court. There were no comparisons to Nazis or racists, nor were there were references to Jim Crow. That separates this ruling from that of a federal judge in Telescope Media Group v. Lindsey.

That case involved two Christian videographers, Carl and Angel Larsen, who challenged parts of Minnesota’s “Human Rights Act” that would require them to service same-sex weddings. They sought the right to post a notice on their website about their policy concerning same-sex weddings.

The Federal District Court rejected their arguments and then said that what the Larsens were proposing to do was “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign.”

Now thankfully, the Oregon Court of Appeals didn’t make any such crazy comparisons. Unlike the federal court in Minnesota, it took the Kleins’ claims to freedom of artistic expression seriously.

But its reasoning was tortured. It acknowledged that “the Kleins imbue each wedding cake with their own aesthetic choices,” but then added the strange and nebulous line that the Kleins “have made no showing that other people will necessarily experience any wedding cake that the Kleins create predominantly as ‘expression’ rather than as food.”

So for the Court, what makes something “art” is that they are “both intended to be and are experienced predominantly (whatever that means) as expression.”

Say what? This reasoning is nonsensical. Last May, a college student from Scotland left a pineapple on a table at a museum, and visitors treated it as if it were on display. A year earlier, a 17-year-old left a pair of glasses on the floor of a San Francisco art gallery and people stood around and took pictures of it. The Guardian called it “a work of genius.”

So pineapples and eyeglasses can be experienced as “art,” even “works of genius,” but a cake specifically designed for the context of a wedding might not be?

Look, the Court pulled this “standard” out of thin air. It was a case of, to borrow a line from Lewis Carroll, “sentence first, verdict afterwards.” The Court realized that making a cake for an event could definitely be speech, but they couldn’t allow this speech or those who made it to prevail, so it created a reason why they shouldn’t.

The fact that it’s impossible to imagine this standard being applied in any other context, or to any other direct speech, only underscores this fact.

And as I close, please visit BreakPoint.org for a special symposium. Hear what folks like Os Guinness, Ryan Anderson, Mindy Belz and others have to say about the challenges facing the Church in 2018. Again, that’s BreakPoint.org.

Editor’s note:  Aaron and Melissa Klein are represented by First Liberty Institute. For up to date information about their case, visit First Liberty Institute’s case page here.

Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Religious Freedom, Lose on Appeal: ‘Art’ in the Eye of the Beholder?

Challenges like the Kleins faced with local and federal legislature and judiciary are likely to increase in the coming year. Read what Christians thinkers and leaders have to say about the issues facing the Church today; click here to visit our first symposium of the new year, “Challenges facing the Church in 2018.”

Resources

Oregon bakers lose another round in state court

  • Leigh Jones | WORLD magazine | December 28, 2017

Challenges facing the Church in 2018

  • Symposium | BreakPoint.org | January 11, 2018

First Liberty Institute

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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The Iranian Protests and the Church – Bread, Freedom, and Faith

The protests currently shaking Iran have enormous implications for U.S. foreign policy—and for the Church.

Iranian citizens are rising up against their oppressive Shiite government. They shout, “Death to the Dictator!” while enduring tear gas, water cannons, arrest—and death.

The demonstrations initially had to do with the sagging economy, high unemployment, and the increased cost of basic foods. As one protester quoted in the Washington Post said, “When we don’t have bread to eat, we are not afraid of anything.”

But these protests may have evolved into “an open rebellion against Iran’s Islamic leadership itself.”

Iranian Protests and the Church - Bread, Freedom, and FaithThe outcome of these protests of course will have enormous implications for the Middle East and for U. S. foreign policy. The Iranian government is a staunch ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, supports Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group and arch-enemy of Israel, and is fomenting unrest (and that’s putting it mildly) throughout the Middle East.

And no doubt you’ve heard about the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But there’s another reason Americans—and especially American Christian—should be following events there: the growth of Christianity in Iran.

In the online journal “The Stream,” my friend Michael Brown writes that Iranian converts, Christian leaders, and missiologists all tell him the same thing: “Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity at an unprecedented pace.” Indeed, according to the Iranian Christian News Agency, Islamic clerics are alarmed at the growing number of Iranian youth who are abandoning Islam, converting to Christianity, and joining house churches. That despite the enormous risks of conversion in a country that openly suppresses the Christian faith.

The news comes as no surprise to Reza Safa, a Muslim convert to Christianity and the author of “The Coming Fall of Islam in Iran.” Safa, who now lives in the U.S., notes on his website that “Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran.”

That’s exciting news. And the protests against the regime raging across Iran may be a sign of hope for Christians, according to Iranian journalist and Christian convert Sohrab Amari. Amari told the Catholic News Agency that “the Iranians who are pouring into the streets have had it with an ideological regime that represses them.” Many are even chanting “nostalgic slogans” about pre-revolutionary Iran—a time when religious minorities like Christians, Jews, and Bahai’s could live well enough alongside their Islamic neighbors.

The outcome of the protests remains to be seen. Will they lead to more freedoms, or to even worse repressions?

And as the number of conversions continues to rise, will the government target churches even more fiercely, or will those who have tasted the freedom to become children of God through Jesus Christ act as leaven in Iranian society, inspiring more people to seek freedom from their authoritarian overlords?

We don’t have to look far back in history to see epoch-shaking movements of God’s people. As Chuck Colson documented masterfully in his book “Being the Body,” the fall of communism in Poland, in Romania, and throughout eastern Europe was fueled by Christian faith—and the human desire for freedom kindled by that faith.

At one time, those of us old enough to remember the Cold War couldn’t have imagined the demise of European communism. But it happened. The fall of an authoritarian Islamist regime should not be beyond our hopes and prayers.

So please, join me in prayer for our brethren in Iran—for safety, for wisdom, and for the conversion of many more to freedom in Jesus Christ.

The Iranian Protests and the Church: Bread, Freedom, and Faith

As events are unfolding in Iran, believers everywhere have the opportunity to intercede for Christians and new converts in that country. Read more about this critical news and its implications by clicking on the links in our Resources section.

Resources:

Michael Brown | Townhall.com | January 2, 2018

Michelle La Rosa | Catholic News Agency | December 29, 2017

CBN News | August 15, 2017

Mohabat News | August 11, 2017

Chuck Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn | Thomas Nelson | 2004

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. 

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The True Beauty of Women – “I Will Do It for You, Baby”

You won’t believe what one lingerie company is doing to show what makes a woman truly beautiful. I’ve got a great story for you. Get a hankie.

When it comes to lingerie companies, we’ve gotten used to some pretty graphic ads. You know the kind I mean: ones that feature impossibly perfect, airbrushed models wearing frilly and revealing underwear.

The True Beauty of Women - “I Will Do It for You, Baby”But the other day I came across the most amazing lingerie ad I’ve ever seen. No, I was not reading a Victoria’s Secret catalog. I was watching an online ad created by the Thailand branch of Wacoal, a Japan-based lingerie company. It was part of a three-part series called “Beauty Inside.” And it magnificently depicts the true value of women.

The first ad opens with a married couple sitting nervously in their doctor’s office, holding hands. “After trying so hard for many years, she finally got pregnant,” the husband says. But today they’re getting some bad news.

“I know it’s hard,” the doctor says sympathetically. “But please make a decision as soon as possible.”

The couple, clearly stunned, drive home, hold one another, and cry.

“On that day at the hospital,” the husband relates, “the doctor told us that she’s got cancer. She has only two choices. First, she might be cured if she took chemotherapy. But that may cause our child a disability. Or we might lose our baby. The alternative is to keep our child. But she might have to fight the cancer alone, without any remedy.”

The woman cries as her husband holds her. The next morning, she gets up and walks to the living room, where the baby’s crib is still sitting on its box. She runs her fingers along the crib and makes a decision: “I will do it for you, baby.”

The mother begins putting the crib together and plays with a stuffed animal, anticipating her child’s birth. Now she is back in the hospital, in labor. When her doctor holds up her healthy baby, she cries with joy. After cuddling and kissing her child, the mother hands him to her husband. She smiles at her little family as a nurse takes her down the hall and into the chemotherapy room.

These ads—which are both profoundly pro-women and pro-life—have become a global phenomenon. Millions of people have watched them online. Clearly they’ve hit a nerve—and I think I know why.

First, most lingerie ads focus on women’s bodies, suggesting that a woman’s appearance is the most important thing about her. But these ads challenge young women to value themselves in other ways: To celebrate strength and sacrifice, courage and compassion.

They’re teaching women something else, as well: that a worthwhile man will value them, not based on outer beauty, which is fleeting, but on inner beauty, which is based on character. And when life throws them a curve ball—such as cancer during a pregnancy—a strong man will help his wife through it.

Finally, I believe modern young women may be getting tired of being encouraged to take the easy way out when they run into a problem—such as a problem pregnancy. Women are, I think, moved by the idea that self-sacrifice is noble, and can be the source of great joy.

It’s hard to watch this ad without crying, especially when you find out it was based on a true story. Whether it meant to or not, the Wacoal company gives us a perfect illustration of 1 Corinthians 13:7: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I hope you’ll watch these ads, and share them with your friends, sisters, and daughters. Their positive messages will help cancel out the hundreds of negative ones that bombard young women every day.

And you just might consider buying the woman in your life some lingerie, not from Victoria’s Secret, but from the company that teaches that the value of women is in the nobility of their character.

(This commentary originally aired March 2, 2017.)

The Beauty of Women: I Will Do It for You, Baby

As Eric highlights, the true value of a woman is not found in appearance but in integrity of character. To see this demonstrated in the arts, watch the Wacoal “My Beautiful Woman” ad series. We’ve included the links below:

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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“Ebeneeeeezer!” Today on BreakPoint, I’m going to talk about Charles Dickens’ great classic work“A Christmas Carol.”

The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol” – Hope, Redemption, Story

The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol” - Hope, Redemption, StoryOne hundred and seventy-four years ago, a British writer was horrified at the conditions under which children were made to labor in tin mines. He decided to write a pamphlet exposing these conditions. His intended title: “An Appeal to the People of England on Behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”

Thank heavens the writer changed his mind. Instead of a pamphlet, he decided to write a novel making the same points. It’s filled with colorful characters—including an old man who goes about snarling “Bah, Humbug!”

Those two little words instantly reveal what book I’m talking about: “A Christmas Carol,” by the immortal Charles Dickens. The book has never been out of print—and it illustrates why telling a good story is often the best way to communicate our beliefs.

Why does “A Christmas Carol” still resonate today? For the answer, I went to my friend Gina Dalfonzo, editor of Dickensblog. She told me “A Christmas Carol “is a book that “has everything: great sorrow and great joy, corruption and redemption, poverty and pain, hope and love.” And “it expresses the deep belief that even the worst person can change for the better.”

“A Christmas Carol” is not merely a magnificent story, and its message is not confined to a “social gospel” teaching: Dickens points directly to Christ throughout. For example, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, suggests that perhaps nothing about Christmas can be “apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin.”

And Tiny Tim expresses the hope that when people saw his lameness, “It might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” This is, Gina points out, “a wonderful example of the biblical idea of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness.”

Dickens’ classic shoots down the idea—prevalent in some Christian circles—that reading novels is a waste of time. They seem to forget that Jesus Himself was a master storyteller. For instance, He didn’t just say, “Come to the aid of those who need help.” Instead, He told a vivid story about a Samaritan who rescues a wounded man.

Chuck Colson once said that when it came to learning moral lessons, he was “much more impressed by profound works of fiction than by abstract theological discourses.” Scenes from some of the greatest stories ever told, he said, “have etched moral truths deeply into my soul. Their characters and lessons are so vivid I can’t forget them.”

And that is likely why so many of us will never forget the moral truths told through Ebenezer Scrooge, Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, and all the other memorable characters that populate Dickens’ great Victorian tale. It’s why we reject pamphlets that say, “Be nice to the needy” in favor of a good strong character bellowing, “Are there no prisons? [Are there no] workhouses?” Or the ghost of Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley, howling, “Mankind was my business!”

Dickens’ Christmas classic is more popular than ever. There’s a new film about how he came to write “A Christmas Carol,” called “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” And a writer named Samantha Silva has just published a novel titled “Mr. Dickens and His Carol.”

I do hope you’ll take time out to read, or re-read, the original, or read it aloud to your family. Who knows what great good may come of it?

And so I end this piece by saying—and you probably knew it was coming“God bless us, everyone.”

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol”: Hope, Redemption, Story

As Eric mentions, a good story has the power to bring moral truths alive for daily life, and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a great example of that. Get the book for yourself or for a friend–it’s available at the online bookstore. And check out Gina Dalfonzo’s Dickensblog for more on the timeless works of this famous British author.

Resources:

The Man Who Invented Christmas (Movie Tie-In): Includes Charles Dickens’s Classic A Christmas Carol: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits

  • Les Standiford | Broadway Books | September 2017

From the book pile: Christmas edition

  • Gina Dalfonzo | Dickensblog | December 19, 2017

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Who Cares How Taylor Swift Votes? (Our Silly Obsession with Pop Stars’ Politics)

I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d talk about Taylor Swift on BreakPoint. Just look what you made me do.

It’s not exactly a secret where the entertainment industry stands on conservative politics, especially President Trump. With few exceptions, this president has only intensified the full opposition by actors, producers, singers, and performers of all stripes to the GOP. But one pop singer—the world’s most successful pop singer, in fact—has remained strangely quiet.Our Silly Obsession with Pop Stars’ Politics

A recent editorial in The Guardian called Taylor Swift an “envoy for [Donald] Trump’s values,” not because she’s ever expressed public support for the president, but because she hasn’t said much of anything about him at all. Swift, you see, isn’t much for politics. She hasn’t joined other entertainers in denouncing Trump with sufficient enthusiasm. And so that’s gotten her in trouble.

Her critic in The Guardian writes that “[Swift’s] silence is striking, highlighting the parallels between the singer and the president: their adept use of social media to foster a diehard support base; their solipsism; their laser focus on the bottom line; their support among the ‘alt-right.’”

This is just the latest in a drumbeat of demands that the 27-year-old singer take a side in this current political scrum. Some have gone much further, suggesting that she’s a secret admirer not only of President Trump, but of the less savory among his supporters. Reports surfaced last year that Neo-Nazis and other racist groups have adopted the tall, blonde pop artist as an unofficial mascot. Some even called her an “Aryan goddess,” and claim that she has secret Nazi sympathies—a charge she has flatly denied.

Still, with no college education and no political experience, this young woman is expected—purely because of her fame—to tell her millions of fans not only how to vote, but which side of the political aisle are the good guys and which are the bad.

Swift, for her part, has consistently refused. “I chose to do music,” she’s said before. Last year before the election, Swift clarified, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling other people who to vote for.”

Well, good for her!

But the burning question through all of this is why on earth we should care about Taylor Swift’s political views! It’s ridiculous that so many people are obsessed with getting celebrities to take sides on candidates and policies. But we’ve got to move beyond this.

First, celebrities aren’t specially endowed with insights into good government. They have the right to express their views like everyone else. But the idea that somehow what they say matters more—well that just proves Neil Postman was right, we are amused to death.

So our celebrities have become our experts and our heroes. That’s a bad idea.

Also this unrealistic expectation of celebrities reveals our culture’s terrible spiritual thirst. Particularly its lack of religious and moral authority. Celebrities are, for too many, the closest things we have to gods.  They are idols, pure and simple.

But there’s still another, and yet more practical reason why setting our political and social compasses by the opinions of entertainers is a bad idea: It poisons entertainment itself. There must be a space that exists outside of politics if our culture is to remain sane—a place where we can set aside our debates and just live together as human beings.

I’m no fan of most pop music, but we do need cultural places where we can live together civilly in our society that are not dominated by political rancor. If everything becomes just another place for a party power struggle, we’ll stop seeing each other first as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, and only look at one another instead as members of opposing armies.

If we can’t figure out a better source for political insights than Taylor Swift or the other celebrities that we already pay too much attention to, we’re in trouble, trouble, trouble. See what I did there?!

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

As John has pointed out, our culture’s obsession with celebrities betrays a spiritual hunger that only Christ can quench. Why not talk about that, winsomely, in one of your conversations with family, friends, or neighbors?

Resources

The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It

  • Os Guinness | HarperOne Publishers | January 2008

Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype & Spin

  • Os Guinness | Baker Books | February 2002

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

  • Neil Postman | Penguin Books Publisher | December 2005

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Scandals, Politics and Faith – In Whom Do We Trust?

For Christians, selectively holding our political and prospective leaders to high moral standards reveals in us an unsettling lack of faith.

Scandals, Politics and Faith - In Whom Do We Trust?The past few months have been dominated by an endless parade of revelations about the sexual misconduct and predations of powerful men. From Hollywood to New York and from Minnesota to Alabama, and just about everywhere else in between, the depths to which fallen human nature can sink have been laid bare.

While these revelations are dismaying, they aren’t, or at least shouldn’t be, surprising. But what is both dismaying and surprising is the willingness of too many people to deny, excuse, overlook, and even dismiss wrongdoing when it’s committed by someone on “their team.”

Thus, one elected official, whose Christianity is well-attested, told the press that she was “troubled” by the accusation of sexual misconduct against her party’s candidate and that she “certainly had no reason to disbelieve” the candidate’s accusers. And yet she announced her intention to vote for that candidate because, in her words, “the United States Senate needs to have in my opinion, a majority of Republican votes to carry the day.”

It’s difficult to see what distinguishes this sort of reasoning from Gloria Steinem’s infamous defense of President Clinton two decades ago. Steinem urged feminists to defend Clinton because he was “vital” to “preserving reproductive freedom.”

Steinem concluded by writing “What if President Clinton lied under oath about [his sexual misconduct]?  . . . There seems to be sympathy for keeping private sexual behavior private.” To do otherwise, Steinem concluded, “will disqualify energy and talent the country needs.”

Now someone who disagreed with that kind of rationalizing back then and would, I’m confident, disagree now, was Chuck Colson.

At the height of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandals, he called the sympathy Steinem alluded to “completely wrong-headed.” He went on to say that “In a democracy, character and leadership are inseparable.”

He then told the story of how George Washington defused a potential mutiny by unpaid Continental Army veterans. Meeting with his officers and urging them to give Congress more time, Washington paused to put on his glasses, and said “Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself going blind.” The soldiers began to weep. Mutiny was averted.

As Thomas Jefferson later wrote, “the moderation and virtue of a single [man] probably prevented this Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”

As Chuck said, “What the Founders understood is that character is the first requirement of leadership,” because “a nation whose leaders do not lead through their own example of virtue and character cannot inspire sacrifice for the common good.”

One of the things I respect most about Chuck is that he did not apply these principles selectively. Those of us who knew him are aware of the pain that he felt when prominent Christian elected officials, some whom he regarded as sons, succumbed to temptation and saw their moral failings exposed in humiliating fashion.

Chuck stood by his friends but he never excused their actions. He told them that they needed to resign their office and get their lives in order. Character wasn’t a partisan issue for him.

Based on recent events, it’s reasonable to wonder if the same thing is true of us. Now let me be clear; due process is due to the accused.  However, too many are justifying the well-documented 180-degree turn Christians have done on the importance of character in public office by appealing to some overriding, political concern.

But if it was wrong 20 years ago, it’s wrong today. And it’s a terrible witness.

In the end, where do we place our trust? We do not have to sacrifice our principles or our witness on the altar of political expedience—precisely because of the ultimate Truth we believe in and live for: that Christ is risen, that He is Lord. And that He ultimately will restore all things. No election can ever change that.

Scandals, Politics and Faith: In Whom Do We Trust?

As John, and Chuck, have reiterated, the character of our elected officials matters, no matter what their political party. When our leaders demonstrate virtue and integrity in their personal as well as public lives, they provide an example for future generations.

Resources

Chuck Colson | BreakPoint.org | February 24, 1998

Albert Mohler | Bethany House Publishers | October 2014

Joseph Stowell | Zondervan Publishing | March 2017

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There are too many myths being propagated about the Supreme Court case involving Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop. It’s time to set the record straight.

On December 5, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission—which could be one of the most significant cases in our nation’s history involving freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

The Case of Masterpiece CakeshopIf your only source of information were mainstream media outlets, you’ve probably heard the case described along these lines: hiding behind a specious claim to religious freedom, anti-gay baker Jack Phillips refused to serve a same-sex couple in his store. The couple reported this hateful discrimination to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which rightly fined Phillips.

There’s only one problem with this description of what happened. It’s hogwash.

Here’s what you need to know about Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop—what you need to know and tell your friends, family, and co-workers when the topic comes up.

First, Jack is a cake artist, something that’s become more famous since reality television shows like “Cake Wars.” He doesn’t just bake cakes; he custom designs master cakes. However, from the beginning Jack has seen his business as an expression of his faith (hence the name), and that has led him to reject business throughout his career. For example, he’s refused to make custom cakes for Halloween and divorce celebrations, and he’s turned down requests for lewd cakes for bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Back in 2012, two men asked Jack to design a cake for their same-sex wedding. Now mind you, back in 2012, the state of Colorado didn’t even recognize same-sex weddings. Jack told them that he would gladly sell them any item in the store—including cakes—but that he could not, due to his religious convictions, use his cake-design talents to participate in the celebration of their ceremony.

The couple left fuming. Vile phone calls started pouring in—even death threats. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission not only fined Jack, but ordered that if he made custom wedding cakes for heterosexual couples, he also had to do it for same-sex couples. Then the Commission—behaving like some communist dictatorship might—ordered Jack and his employees to go through a “re-education” program and provide quarterly compliance reports.

Obviously Jack appealed, and his case has made it to the Supreme Court. Jack has stopped selling wedding cakes, and has lost 40 percent of his business, and has had to lay off employees.

Now those are the facts. You can find them at ADFLegal.org—the website of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Jack.

Nonetheless, the media, the LGBTQ lobby, the ACLU, and even members of Congress continue to misrepresent the case and smear Jack Phillips.

At a recent press briefing, Maryland Congressman Stenny Hoyer told the cameras,

“We’re better than exclusion, we’re better than hate, we’re better than prejudice. We respect each and every one of our fellow citizens.”

Well, each and every citizen except, I suppose, Jack Phillips.

The liberal website ThinkProgress (which by the way calls the Alliance Defending Freedom an “anti-LGBTQ hate group”) wrote that Phillips refused to sell the gay couple “any product.”

That’s simply not true. He offered them anything in the shop that was already made.

I could go on and on with the misrepresentations—and the omissions. But the facts are Jack was not singling out gay customers. He simply refuses to use his artistic talent in a way that would violate his core convictions.

Today on the BreakPoint podcast, you can hear Jack’s attorney Kristen Waggoner and the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson describe the details and significance of this case, and how you can support Jack Phillips. Come to BreakPoint.org to find out more.

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

 

Resources

The freedom to make decisions based upon our faith is being challenged

  • Alliance Defending Freedom | Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Gay couple to anti-gay baker: This is how nondiscrimination laws are supposed to work

  • Zack Ford | thinkprogress.org | October 25, 2017

Hoyer Remarks at a Press Conference Announcing Amicus Brief in Landmark LGBT Equal Rights Case

  • Press Release | Steny Hoyer | November 1, 2017

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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If someone bangs on your door tonight, they probably want candy. Five hundred years ago, someone banged on a door for a very different reason.

The Reformation Turns 500: How Luther Shaped Our World

On this day in 1517—at least according to tradition—a German monk-turned-Bible-professor nailed a list of debate topics to a church door, altering the course of history.

The Reformation Turns 500 - How Luther Shaped Our WorldNow, we don’t know the exact date when Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses, although he did submit them to his archbishop on October 31. What we do know is that Luther never intended to defy the church or split Western Christendom. When he challenged all comers to a debate on the sale of indulgences—which were essentially a way to buy into Heaven—he wanted to call God’s ministers back to Scripture.

But those ministers resisted. Luther wouldn’t budge, and the result was what we now know as the Protestant Reformation.

Historian Philip Schaff writes that next to the beginning of Christianity, the Reformation was “the greatest event in history.” That may be hyperbole, but not by much. If you worship in a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, non-denominational, or—of course—Lutheran congregation, you’re directly affected by Martin Luther. Anglicans have been affected too, and even Roman Catholics saw reforms within that communion that came about because of Martin Luther.

And the Reformation’s influence goes far beyond the church doors. Luther’s appearance before the Diet of Worms—that famous moment when he reportedly said, “Here I stand, I can do no other,” has been called “the trial that led to the birth of the modern world.”

Our ideas about free inquiry, democracy, education, and capitalism can all ultimately be traced back to the Reformation.

And the Reformation also reemphasized ideas like the sacredness of all callings, and spheres of authority in human society. In Luther’s mind, individuals and civil magistrates, as well as the clergy, were responsible to read, understand, and obey the Bible.

As Eric Metaxas and I discuss on this week’s BreakPoint podcast, Luther came to personify the power of Scripture. In his outstanding new biography on Luther, Eric tells how this bold reformer stood at the intersection of the Middle Ages and the modern world, insisting that there is “daylight between truth and power.”

And it was this idea—that God’s written word is the highest authority in the Christian faith, available to everyone—that birthed a still more revolutionary idea: that God Himself admits us into His kingdom by grace alone.

“The Reformation,” wrote the late Episcopal priest Robert Capon, “was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace—bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us singlehandedly.”

Now the fallout of the Reformation wasn’t all good, and even today Christianity is plagued with divisions, disagreements, and distortions of Luther’s project. Luther, himself, was far from perfect.

But I’m a mentee of Chuck Colson, who together with Father Richard John Neuhaus brought evangelicals and Catholics together over common cause. I pray and believe that the divisions of the 1500s—which remain real and significant to this day—can be addressed without sacrificing truth, and yet in the meantime, we can treat each other with love and grace, and should work together whenever and wherever we can.

As we mark 500 years since Luther’s initial protest, it’s clear there’s more reforming to be done on both sides of the Wittenberg door. But that’s why Reformation is not just a moment in history. It’s a posture. During the next 500 years, the sound of Luther’s hammer should call us as the people of God to conform ourselves to the Word of God, and ultimately to the Person of God in Jesus Christ.

The Reformation Turns 500: How Luther Shaped Our World

Delve further into the history of the Protestant Reformation by checking out the resources at the Colson Center online bookstore. One great suggestion is Eric Metaxas’s latest book “Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World.” Get your copy now. And listen to the podcast of John talking with Eric about Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the modern world by clicking here.

Resources

Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet on Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the Birth of the Modern World

  • Breakpoint.org | October 30, 2017

Top 10 Trials That Shook The World: Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms

  • Kayla Webley| Time.com | April 8, 2011 

Visit Breakpoint.org to get further information about the many great books and other resources available there and you can link up to our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

By Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.

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Communication and Leadership Development with Jon Imbeau

Watch as Jon Imbeau gives me a challenge that will change my communication for the rest of my life.

Communication and Leadership Development with Jon ImbeauI love to learn. There are some sessions when I finish the interview and know that God was challenging me in a very personal way to take an area of my life to the next level.

This was one of those sessions!

Jon Imbeau is our guest on the podcast today. I first met Jon when he was a pastor in the Fraser Valley. I always admired him as a prolific public speaker, family man and man of God.

Today he serves as the Executive Director for Awana Canada where he is doing amazing work in children and youth ministry all over our great nation.

In this session, we talked about camp, the gospel, Awana Canada, and preaching without notes.
Jon has always been a role model to me. There were times when he would take me aside and speak into something I needed. This session was no different. You can literally hear me being challenged and changed as the conversation goes on.

Links:

If you would like to contact Jon personally, you can email him here.

If you would like more information about Awana Canada, you can find their website here.

(This podcast is by Jon Morrison. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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