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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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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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#MeToo – Human Dignity, Sexual Morality, and Christian Responsibility

The curtain is being lifted on sexual predation. That’s good. And it reveals why we cannot abandon Christianity’s liberating vision of human sexuality.

The recent ugly revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, coming on the heels of similar revelations about Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes of Fox News, has many American women saying “enough!”

#MeToo - Human Dignity, Sexual Morality, and Christian ResponsibilityVia a flood of posts on Twitter and other social media, women, using the hashtag #MeToo, are demonstrating that sexual harassment, assault, and rape isn’t a problem limited to a relative handful of high-profile creeps.

I applaud their courage. After all, among Christianity’s greatest contributions to the world has been its revolutionary ideas about the dignity of women. To not stand up for that dignity is to betray that heritage.

And to understand why betrayal is the right word, we need to understand the pagan world into which Christianity was born, a world classics scholar Sarah Ruden describes in her 2010 book, “Paul Among the Peoples.”

With the exception of a few highborn women, Roman women were often treated worse than Roman cattle. Even upper-class women were little more than possessions, and when it came to sexuality, they were at their husband’s beck and call and could be disposed of at will.

Slave women, which were a full third of Rome’s female population, could expect beatings and rape. The “fortunate” ones were sold into prostitution. Unwanted girls were left to die of exposure.

Into this world came Christianity, specifically the writings of St. Paul. As Ruden tells her readers, to call him an “oppressor of women” could “hardly be more wrong.” “Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time . . .”

Christianity “worked a cultural revolution,” she writes, “restraining and channeling the male Eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.” In Ruden’s words, Christian ideas about marriage were “as different from anything before or since as the command to turn the other cheek.”

Of course, sexually-predatory males didn’t go extinct, but until just recently—and thanks largely to Christian influence—they couldn’t rationalize their predations, either.

But all that’s changed. As David French wrote in the National Review, “You can sum up the sexual ethic of the sexual revolutionary in one sentence: Except in the most extreme circumstances (such as incest), consenting adults define their own moral norms.”

He continues, “Consent is determined by the request, and in a completely sexualized culture, the request can come at any time, anywhere, and from any person you encounter—regardless of the power imbalance or the propriety of the location.”

Given the damage wrought by this change the last thing we should be doing as Christians is running from the clear, life-giving vision of human sexuality that liberated the pagan world.

Yet that’s exactly what many of us are doing. We’re rationalizing our own surrender to the sexual ethos of the day, even thinking ourselves “loving” and “tolerant” to abandon the historic Christian teaching on sex and marriage. But given the brokenness around us, it’s cruel—not loving—to withhold the truth in our confused culture.

But that’s not our only betrayal. Too often, in our churches and Christian institutions, we have turned a blind eye or pretended to not know about the sexual abuse or harassment happening within. That’s a horrific betrayal of people made in the image of God, as well as of the truth that can set them free.

And then there’s politics. Within five years, evangelicals went from being “the least likely to the most likely group to agree that a candidate’s personal immorality has no bearing on his performance in public office.” That’s scandalous, and it’s biblically indefensible.

On no altar, especially not political expediency or cultural relevance, can Christians ever sacrifice the beautiful, life-giving vision of human sexuality that the Bible presents. To do so is to rob the world of a divine gift that has changed cultures in the past, and can do so again.

#MeToo: Human Dignity, Sexual Morality, and Christian Responsibility

As John said, Christians have the opportunity to present the truth and beauty of God’s design for human sexuality. We also have the responsibility to speak out against anything that demeans the dignity and betrays the humanity of those created in God’s image, wherever that may occur.

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.

Resources:

It’s Past Time to Rethink Modern Sexual Morality

  • David French | National Review | October 15, 2017

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As Han Solo told Luke, “That’s great, kid! Don’t get cocky.” Next on BreakPoint, a call for both thanks and renewed effort by defenders of religious freedom.

The HHS Mandate Rolled BackBack in May, the president signed an executive order instructing government agencies to ‘consider amending existing regulations’ to address the problems with the HHS mandate.

It was a solid first step toward protecting religious freedom, and many of us hoped that the promised second step would be soon forthcoming. And yet, at the same time I offered a reminder then that if we had even “gotten the executive order many of us hoped for, it still would have been, at best a temporary help.”

On Friday, a definitively more substantial step was taken by the administration to protect the rights of conscience. And once again, I’m grateful. And yet again, I offer a reminder that at most, this is a temporary reprieve, not a victory.

The step taken Friday by the administration addresses the most egregious parts of the HHS mandate: its indifference to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

While the mandate excluded churches, it forced religious institutions such as colleges, hospitals, even religious orders to violate their conscience by providing and subsidizing abortion-inducing medication and contraception. The Obama administration took the nonsensical position that essentially only churches were religious employers.

On Friday, the DOJ announced what’s known as the “interim final rule,” which keeps the mandate in place for the vast majority of employers’ employees, but dramatically expands the Obama administration’s narrow categories for religious exemption.

Friday’s rule creates what the Beckett Fund called a “targeted, commonsense protection” for religious nonprofits and employers with religious and/or moral objections to contraception. And it ends the nonsensical state of affairs where religious colleges, Catholic nuns, and other religious non-profits are not considered religious employers.

And speaking of nonsensical, the response to this announcement was, to put it mildly, melodramatic. TheNew York TimesCNN and others breathlessly declared this a blow for women’s rights. A newspaper in Erie, Pennsylvania declared that “Dropping birth control coverage puts women’s health at stake.”

In reality, the number of women potentially affected by this change is the tiniest fraction of those otherwise covered by the mandate. And, as the Obama administration admitted before the Supreme Court, “there are many other ways for women to receive [contraceptive] services.”

Adding to the nonsense, the ACLU quickly announced that it would challenged the interim final rule in court, as did California. While they’re unlikely to prevail, it’s a reminder that we still have our work cut out for us.

For starters, this final interim rule doesn’t end litigation like the Little Sisters’ challenge. They still haven’t obtained a final relief from the courts. Until then, they can’t be sure where they stand legally. And this policy, just like the original mandate, can be changed depending on who’s in the White House. Only a legislative solution, not an administrative decision, can permanently protect religious freedom when it comes to healthcare law.

But an even more important change is needed, and that’s in the culture. Most often, as we like to say around here, politics is downstream from culture. Ultimately, no law or regulation can secure religious freedom if the cultural imagination is lost. And sadly, in this case it is.

Many Americans, especially on the left, think that religious freedom is just bigotry or is trying to impose faith on others. That’s untrue and unfair, but it’s still what they believe. As long as so many of our neighbors are ignorant about what the free exercise of religion means, our job has to be to help them understand.

As I said back in May, “This is where the battle for religious freedom will be fought, either won or lost, no matter who sits in the Oval Office.” It’s as true today as it was then, despite this very good news.

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 HHS Mandate Rolled Back: Good News, Still More Work to Do

Friday provided one piece of good news for religious freedom, but as John has reiterated, there’s still much to be done. Get equipped to inform the cultural imagination on why religious freedom is important for all people. Check out the resources linked below:

Resources

The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity

  • Os Guinness | IVP Books | September 2013

The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture

  • Scott Klusendorf | Crossway Books | March 2009

The Gospel & Religious Liberty

  • Russell Moore, Andrew Walker | B&H Publishing Group | June 2016

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Trump, the NFL, and Us – America’s Descent into Triviality

Could it be that our fascination with the story is more important than the story itself? President Trump, the NFL, and us.

Last week was a week full of headlines. On Wednesday, the president, speaking before the United Nations, said that if the U.S. “is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

Later that day, Hurricane Maria crossed Puerto Rico from southeast to northwest, dropping upwards of forty inches of rain, including fourteen inches in a two-hour period, which may be a world record nobody wants to own. More than three million American citizens were left without power or water, and face a humanitarian crisis.

Oh, and somewhere in there was another failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But by the weekend, the story that most Americans seemed to care about was a feud between the president and professional athletes.Trump, the NFL, and Us - America’s Descent into Triviality

By now, you undoubtedly know more than you need to know about that feud—I mean that literally—and I don’t want to contribute to a problem I’m about to decry. So for details, I’ll direct your attention to a fine piece by David French in the National Review.

But we’re still left with the question about why this discussion is consuming so much of our national attention when there are issues far more deserving that we are increasingly disinclined to care about.

I suggest the reason was the subject of a 1985 book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” by the late Neil Postman. Postman, the founder of New York University’s Media Ecology program, wrote about our culture’s “vast descent into triviality.”

Comparing George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” Postman concluded that Huxley had proved to be more prophetic. Whereas “Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information, Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.”

Whereas “Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us, Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture.”

The consequences of becoming the sort of culture Huxley predicted was on full display this weekend. Namely, as Postman warned, by caring about things that aren’t important, while being distracted from things that truly are important.

We live in an age where the phrase “Instagram celebrity” can be said with a straight face. Historian Daniel Boorstin’s definition of a celebrity—“someone who is well-known for his well-knownness”—is now truer than ever. In such a culture, as Postman forewarned, being popular is confused with being important.

As Bill Brown, Senior Fellow for Worldview and Culture at the Colson Center has long said, “In other times and places, heroes made history. In our time and place, they make CD’s and touchdowns.” And yet, we are the people who know their lyrics and stats better than our own national history or Constitution. We can name the judges of “The Voice,” but not those on the Supreme Court.

Postman also worried that our desire for entertainment and distraction would rob us of our ability to think critically or to even think for ourselves at all.

Here’s a case in point: David French rightly asked how many people yelling ‘free speech’ for athletes are only too happy to sic the government on the tiny few bakers or florists who don’t want to use their artistic talents to celebrate events they find offensive?”

It is amazing just how prophetic Postman has proven to be, even though he was writing years before Internet or social media, and only a few years after cable television. He knew we were embracing self-destructive habits of the soul, and he tried to warn us.

But listening is not nearly as amusing as a Twitter war, and requires much more sustained attention than watching a football game.

Lord, have mercy on us all!

Trump, the NFL, and Us: America’s Descent into Triviality

Postman’s insight on our culture’s ability to idolize the trivial and gloss over the important is a wake-up call that reverberates even in the Body of Christ.  Pray that we recognize the difference between the insignificant and the significant, between the temporary and the eternal.

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.

Resources

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Protesting is as American as apple pie. But, if you’re wearing a ski mask and holding a baseball bat, “protester” isn’t the right word for you.

Antifa vs. Free Speech: Politics ‘By Any Means Necessary’America’s founders believed that freedom of speech, the ability to express political and religious opinions, even unpopular ones, is central to self-government. Of course, this freedom, like all freedoms, has limits, particularly when it comes to putting others in actual danger. We can’t shout, “Fire!” for example, in a crowded theatre.

However, an emerging group of radicals on the left has embraced a new belief: that just about any ideas, other than theirs, are not only wrong, but dangerous. And so instead of arguing or debating, they’ve committed to shut down expression by, and I quote, “any means necessary.”

We saw this on full display two weekends ago in Berkeley, where so called “anti-fascist protesters” clad in black and wielding baseball bats and homemade riot shields attacked members of a cancelled right-wing rally. “Antifa,” as these anarchists and leftists call themselves, reportedly broke through police lines and soon turned things violent.

Video shows vigilantes in ski masks and hoodies chasing down and pummeling Trump supporters with signs that read, “No hate.” The irony, evidently, was lost on them.

In the end, police intervened with tear gas and made fourteen arrests. “There is a complete mob mentality here,” James Queally of the LA Times summarized. “People are…accusing random people of being Nazis.”

And therein lies the problem. Because although Antifa members style themselves as a citizen resistance movement against fascists, there’s no evidence there were any actual fascists at Berkeley. At least not of the right-wing variety.

The only way to understand this behavior is to realize that, despite their names, Antifa is not just driven by their opposition to fascism. What they consider to be fascism is fully informed by their far-left worldview, and their embrace of far-left ideologies like socialism, communism, and anarchy—ideologies which tend to see their opponents not only as wrong, but as obstacles to a utopian fantasy that must be removed.

The Berkeley blowup was just the latest in a long string of riots with Antifa at their center. During the inauguration in January, 230 so-called “protesters” were arrested for smashing windows and starting fires. In February at Berkeley, Antifa demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails to halt a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos. The same month, the Portland city council was forced to shut down a public forum after Antifa threatened violence. In March, conservative political scientist Charles Murray was manhandled at Middlebury College, and more recently, Antifa members trying to disrupt a free speech rally in Boston, threw urine-filled projectiles at police.

The Department of Homeland Security, in fact, has designated Antifa’s actions as “domestic terrorist activities” and has warned that more Antifa violence is on the way.

But until this second riot at Berkeley, the mainstream media have mostly refused to condemn Antifa’s violence, with some even comparing them to the allied troops storming the beaches at Normandy. But as David French points out at National Review, unlike Charlottesville, there weren’t any Nazis in California, Oregon, Massachusetts, or Washington, D.C., and still Antifa led with violence.

Thankfully, the latest dustup in Berkeley appears to have awakened some common sense. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called Antifa out for “using violence to shut down free speech.” Slate and Vox also put the blame for the Berkeley riot on Antifa. And the editorial board of the Washington Post unequivocally condemned left-wing thugs and called for a renewal of “democratic norms and the rule of law.”

Despite my opinions about MSNBC, Slate, and the Washington Post as news sources, this is a step in the right direction.

People of good will on both sides must agree that the right to peacefully assemble, debate and even protest is a foundation of our Republic. And if left and right don’t speak out against political violence while we still can, the price of speech will become higher than any of us can afford to pay.

Antifa vs. Free Speech: Politics ‘By Any Means Necessary’

It’s crucial that we continually speak out against violence as a political tool. Christians especially can provide a Christ-like model of vigorous but respectful debate and peaceful assembly, ideas our 1st Amendment protects.

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.

Resources:

Antifa Just Showed Its True Colors. Again.

  • David French | National Review | August 28, 2017

‘Antifa’ groups only help the hateful forces they claim to oppose

  • Editorial Board | Washington Post | August 29, 2017

Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley

  • Kyle Swenson | Washington Post | August 28, 2017

Berkeley protests of Yiannopoulos caused $100,000 in damage

  • Madison Park and Kyung Lah | CNN | February 2, 2017

Pee-Filled Projectiles A Recurring Weapon Of Choice For ‘Anti-Fascists’

  • Peter Hasson | Dailycaller.com | August 20, 2017

FBI, Homeland Security warn of more ‘antifa’ attacks

  • Josh Meyer | Politico.com | September 1, 2017

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