Category Archives: Current Events

How should I identify myself?

A lot of people talk about being [FILL IN THE BLANK]-Americans, nowadays. That word before the hyphen usually has something to do with where the person’s family came from. And that historical adjective might even refer to things that happened hundreds of years ago. I really don’t think that way. And apparently I am not the only one. Someone has compiled a list of strange things that Americans do. Here is one of them:

“Identifying as your heritage instead of your nationality. Americans will say that they’re Italian, German, Polish, etc. when they don’t speak the language and have no real connection to those countries anymore. In other parts of the world people just identify with the country they were born in or have lived in for a significant amount of time, regardless of their ancestry.”

This is something I didn’t grow up thinking about. Yes, I did hear funny jokes about ethnic people. But most of them could apply to just about any other people group. Remember this one?

Q: How many [FILL IN THE BLANK]s does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One to hold the bulb and 3 to turn the chair.

I really don’t have a firm grasp of where my family came from. My brother traced the family tree back several hundred years, but it didn’t make me think that I was from another country. My only recollection about me is that I’m an American from Ohio. What happened hundreds of years ago has little to do with who I am today.

When we think about who we are, our ethnic heritage really doesn’t matter for a Christian. It might shape the way we talk, act, think, or look, but our main descriptor should be Christian.

Think about what the Bible says about this.

  1. What does the Bible say about our past?

    While the Bible was written before we were born, there is plenty of information about our ancestors contained in it.

    a. We all descended from Adam and Noah (Gen. 3:20; 9:18-19).

    When God gave Eve to Adam, he named her because she was the first mother from whom all people came from. Sadly, those descendants spiraled out of control and became very wicked until only one family remained that was true to God. Noah and his family escaped God’s judgment on the Ark and later repopulated the earth.

    Because this is true, we are all related. We are related to the professors in the Ivy League schools as well as the primitive tribes in the jungle. We are all part of the human race irrespective of any differences we may see today.

    b. We have good and bad ancestors.

    It is easy to talk about our famous ancestors but not the ones we dislike. On Sharon’s side, we may be related to Stephen Foster. On my side, we may be related to someone who was in the Olympics. My personal claim to fame is that I was next in line to play a game of pickup basketball with the professional football player, Pepper Johnson. Are you impressed yet?

    If we go back to Noah, we can say that we are related to him. Yes, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But he also got drunk and took off his clothes after the Flood. Which of these are you more happy to be related to?

    The problem is that we are also related to criminals, pathological liars, and ungodly people. But nobody brings that up unless they are blaming you for something that happened in your family’s past. Were your ancestors slavers? Were your ancestors Nazis? Were your ancestors hateful? Probably, but we didn’t have a choice in becoming a part of our family just as others didn’t either.

    c. We have problems of our own.

    The Bible describes the entire human race in terms that do not flatter:

    Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

    Romans 3:9-12 – “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

    These descriptions leave us with no excuses. We all are sinful and much different than what we want to be known for. But God peels away our facade and shows who we are at our core.

  2. What does the Bible say about different people?

    The Bible does talk about different people groups. In the Old Testament, the Bible talks about the color of someone’s skin (the Ethiopian, Solomon’s wife) but it mostly divides people up into nationalities based on where the people live. But even then, the Bible describes people by how they responded to God and his ways.

    When you get to the New Testament, the idea of describing people by their nationality is not as important. Not several verses that show us this.

    a. God loved the world (John 3:16).

    While we are very familiar with this Bible verse, we don’t often think of the context. Jesus was talking to a Jewish teacher named Nicodemus. When these words were spoken, a Jewish person would have expected Jesus to say that “God so loved the Jewish people.” Instead, Jesus said that He loved the world. That includes people outside of God’s Chosen People.

    b. God divides us into two types of people (Matt. 25:31-33).

    Jesus announced that He would divide people like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Apparently, this was necessary at the end of the day. In this passage, Jesus puts some people (sheep) on his right hand and calls them blessed for their character and actions. He then puts other people (goats) on his left hand and calls them cursed. He sends them away because of their character and actions.

    This gives us the idea that it is not one’s heritage that counts but one’s relationship to Jesus. Who are the people who do what is right? It is the people (in any place) who believe and obey the Lord. Who are the people who are rejected by the Lord? It is the people (in any place) who do not believe or obey the Lord.

    c. God unites believers from all over (Rev. 7:9-10).

    This final passage is one that makes me smile. After listing off the tribes of Israel, John writes that he saw an immense crowd of people from diverse backgrounds. The people in this group came from different nations, tribes, peoples, and languages. But these people were not united by those characteristics but by what they all believed. They all agreed that Salvation came from God and the Lamb and they praised God for that fact.

The Bible shows us what God thinks about our identity. While it does not ignore our nationality, skin color, and culture, it does minimize the value of those characteristics. Even being a Jewish person is not as important as you would think.

What God deems valuable is not our historical background, or national origin, but our response to Him. Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? Are you listening to and obeying God? Are you unified with the faithful people of God? These are the important characteristics that should differentiate us from other people in the world.

How does Romans 12:16-21 apply to political disagreements?

During the past four years, we have become a very divided nation. Topics in the news have included: collusion with Russia, impeachment, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, QAnon, white nationalists, election issues, Hunter Biden, COVID-19, and riots all over the country. Social media discussions about these topics have become rather heated at times. How then should Christians respond? Romans 12:16-21 seems to be a good starting place.

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

1. We should be peaceful whenever possible.

If God tells us to be harmonious, humble, honorable, peaceable, not vengeful, and not to be overcome by evil, that should be our modus operandi. The response or actions of other people should not change the way we respond. However, if we decline to follow God’s commands as here mentioned, we are no longer representing Christ but something else. No matter how great the political cause, disobedience in these areas can be detrimental to God’s greater purposes. We must do God’s work in God’s way to honor Him. Keep that in mind.

2. We should defend the US constitution and American law when possible.

One of the tricky things about being an American Christian is that we are both citizens of heaven and our country. We have responsibilities to both. Our first priority is to God but another priority is loyalty to our country. A good summary of this loyalty is in the oath I took when hired by the US Postal Service:

“I, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

When a politician, judge, or any other person tries to do something that goes against the constitution or laws, I should voice my concern and take lawful action to stop them. When an individual or organization seeks to limit someone’s ability to speak freely, I point to the 1st amendment and try to stop them from subverting lawful rights. When an individual or organization seeks to limit someone’s right to bear arms (for protection against criminals or tyrannical government), I point to the 2nd amendment and try to stop them from subverting lawful rights.


There are times where strong words and actions are needed. We must stand up for what is right and speak out against unlawful and evil activity. But, as Christians, we must remember that our normal way of doing things should be to seek peace, to be humble, to leave revenge in God’s hands, and to overcome evil with good. Let us be careful in our verbal and written responses to hot button topics. Winning a debate is not the only priority for Christians.

Your Current Influence

Recent events in the US have resulted in protests, rioting, looting, vandalism, murder, and arson. What should be the response of Christians during this time? While reading through the Proverbs, I came across one that gives a good perspective on how our choices affect those around us.

“By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.”

– Proverbs 11:11

Upright – These are people who want to do what is right, who want to please God and follow his wisdom.

Illustration – Daniel blessed Babylon with his presence by being, doing and speaking what was right despite the attempts of wicked people to destroy him. As the various kings saw his upright behavior, he was honored and promoted, and he proved to be a blessing to the people in that city.

Wicked – These are people who want to do what is wrong, who hate God, and rebel against his wisdom.

Illustration – King Manasseh of Judah rejected God. By his words and actions, he “seduced them to do more evil” (2 Kings 21). He degenerated so far as to burn his son in fire while worshiping an idol. His influence harmed those around him.

These two examples are extremes. That is the way proverbs are written. They show opposites to make a point. These illustrations show the possible outcome of living either uprightly or wickedly from real life examples.

Choice One – If you love God, his wisdom is evident in the way you influence your community. Doing right helps others, holds back evil, and points people to the Lord.

Choice Two – If you love wickedness, your thinking will affect the way you influence your community. Your words can promote lawlessness and the ultimate destruction of those around you.

Choose wisely.

Current Events: Where are the answers?

It seems that our country has come to a place where few people can agree on any given subject. The government is shut down because of a disagreement about immigration and the proposed border wall. Should it be built or not? Certain states have legalized marijuana in the past few years. Will this turn out to be a good idea? Some people are having surgeries to change their biological gender. Is this a good idea? Politicians are arguing about whether government should provide universal healthcare. Is this feasible? There are many other questions that may come to mind as you watch the news. But there is seldom any agreement as to the answers for each situation.

Have you ever considered what God’s perspective is on any of these subjects? Think about it this way. According to the Bible, God created everything. He also designed everything that was created. Now think about that for a moment. The God who created everything in the universe and who designed it to work together a certain way probably has answers for all of the current problems we face today. But how do we know what God thinks about each issue? Does he specifically address immigration, drug use, sexuality, or healthcare in the Bible?

The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity. In it, you will find real life accounts of human failures and victories. There are true stories about people who made important life choices and then experienced the results from what they did. There are also accounts of how God interacted with people throughout various times in history. His interaction with people often showed his desire for their situations. The more you read the Bible, the more you will notice God’s perspective about a variety of issues. You will quickly notice that his thinking is different than what is commonly accepted today. However, you may notice something else. As God interacted with various people, he had their best interest in mind. He made laws for the good of the people. He often stepped in to warn them of poor decisions and the results that would come from them.

Maybe it would be good for you to read the Bible again and see what God says about current events. It may take a while and you may not find the answers right away. But as you read, you will see that God is wise and compassionate toward people. But he has also setup things to work a certain way. When people reject his principles, things don’t normally go very well. So, take a look at the Bible and see if you can find the answers you are seeking. Others have been amazed at how wise God is.


“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” –Romans 11:33

No Consideration for Rights Abandoned

During the last year, we have heard many stories about freedom of speech in the work place. These have come from a variety of people including NFL players and conservative Google employees. Is freedom of speech protected at work? The answer is not very clear.

However, during the 19th century, one man faced opposition for what he wrote about politics during his own time. After publishing articles under an assumed name, the clerk of the office of the Secretary of the United States Senate was confronted by his superior for expressing his opposition to the election of Andrew Jackson (1829-37). Apparently, his pseudonym had not hidden his identity very well.

Was it inappropriate for him to express his views outside of the workplace because of his position? In other words, should government officials be quiet about their political leanings on their own time? While there may be times when one’s position should prohibit his mouth from talking too freely, this clerk was not so inclined.

“Upon entering the public office, I engaged to perform, to the best of my ability, a known and prescribed duty; to conform to the instructions of the head of the office relating to that duty; and to receive as an equivalent for the services thus rendered, not as a consideration for rights abandoned, the compensation which might be allowed by law. But I never did engage to become an automaton or machine; to look on unmoved, or without effort, when I should see the republic institution of my country in danger, or to surrender a single right of an American citizen.

In the office and during the hours devoted to its duties, I acknowledge and obey an official superior. When my official duty has closed, I stand on an equal footing with any man that breathes. In the hours of relaxation from the toil and drudgery of office, my thoughts shall wander as discursive as the air; my opinions, uncontrolled by human authority, shall be embodied in any form my judgment shall approve; … it shall be my endeavor to treasure up these precious fragments of existence, and devote them to objects which I may deem beneficial to my family or society, and pleasing to that Being who has the time of all at his command.”1

Lewis H. Machen (1790-1863)

Machen wasn’t willing to give in to pressure just because someone disapproved of his opinions. He stood up for what he believed and continued speaking despite the frowns of those who were over him. While opinions may need to be held back at work, there is no law in the United States holding back the free expression of ideas at other times, nor should there be.

1As quoted in J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir by Ned B. Stonehouse.

Why did God allow the Las Vegas massacre to happen?

The news media has been presenting their solutions for what happened in Las Vegas. After so many people were killed and wounded, some wonder where God was when it all happened. One man angrily responded, “I can’t bow down to a God who allows this kind of stuff to happen. Why does He never show up at the same time evil does?”

A Christian writer answered his questions with two points: (1) Satan was the instigator of what happened – not God. Satan’s constant desire is to influence people with evil and to destroy them. Why, then, should God be blamed for what Satan is doing? (2) We often miss what God does during these tragedies. Did anyone notice how God enabled people to stop the shooter, to rescue the wounded, and bring together the community in the time of need? God was at work during this terrible massacre and without His help, it would have been worse.

But we must also consider a third and more uncomfortable truth. (3) Most people have rejected God and do not want his hand in their lives. During everyday life, many Americans have no use for God. They only mention his name when it is convenient or when they can blame him for a tragedy like this. People tend to want a God who does what they want instead of the One who requires submission to His will. So, how can He be blamed by those who reject Him on every other day of the week?

We may never completely understand why God allows tragedies to take place. However, we must not forget that Satan’s influence and man’s sinfulness are to blame for what happened this time. God is against evil, but it still exists and causes harm to many. Please remember that God is good and desires what is best. We may wonder why this happened, but perhaps the more important question is whether we are willing to turn from our wicked ways and trust Him.

A Few Thoughts on Matt Olson’s Departure from Northland

The president of Northland International University, Dr. Matt Olson, made an announcement during the school’s chapel service today. In his own words,

“Last Thursday we had an incredible day, our Founder’s Day celebrating the life and ministry of Paul Patz. The wonderful day. We had our service here. We had a lunch with the Patz family. In the afternoon we had a meeting with them and shared all the things that are going on … We shared everything with them what’s happening in the ministry here. We talked about our future plans and some of our present challenges. Several of our board member came up that day and after the meeting that we had with the Patz family, the board met together and in the evening they asked me to come back and meet back with them at 8 o’clock Thursday evening. At that time, they shared with me that they believed in the best interest of Northland and Northland’s future, that they find a new president.”

While some are calling for silence about the subject, I would still like to make a few comments about what just took place.

  1. Having gone through a similar situation, I understand the emotions that accompany such an announcement. This must be a very difficult time for him and his family. So, I encourage us all to pray for them.
  2. While I disagree with the direction he led the school, I appreciated his demeanor during his response to the “change in plans.” It was handled in a classy way and I appreciate that.
  3. In his response, Dr. Olson pointed the student body to the Lord and away from asking questions such as “Why?” But those questions still remain. Why was he let go? Is the board concerned about the direction he was taking the school? And what direction will the board take the school in the future?

Time will tell whether things change for the better at Northland. My hope is that the board will make good decisions and will appoint a man who is able to lovingly lead the ministry in the right direction. Thankfully, “with God all things are possible.”

Gun Control

How is it that people are so calloused as to take the life of another human being? It’s a terrible thing but something that has plagued the world since creation. The first brothers had an argument that resulted with Cain killing Abel. Since then, others have followed Cain’s example and killed others for a variety of reasons: robbery, jealousy, anger, etc. Where does this kind of stuff come from? Jesus said that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” According to him, the problem is our sinful hearts—the problem each one of us has.

Compounding that problem is the added influence of Satan. During Bible times, there were people who were possessed by demons and influenced by Satan. They did strange things. For instance, the demoniac of Gadera lived in a graveyard, wore no clothes, and broke any chains put on him. Whether you believe the Bible or not, you have to admit that the occult and Satanism in general has produced some very strange and horrible results. I thought of that when the young man responsible for the Chardon shootings told the court that he heard voices telling him what to do.

That influence seems to be magnified by the world in general. Think about people who spend a lot of time thinking about death (Goth), watching horror movies, playing violent computer games, and listening to music that glorifies death, violence, adultery, etc. Look at entertainment news and you’ll see a fairly accurate description of the soul of America. It’s not a pretty picture.

The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has brought the gun control debate back into the open. People are rightly appalled that something like this would happen. And everyone seems to have an idea about how to stop it from happening. The ideas range from having every school teacher carrying a gun to outlawing guns completely. I’m not thrilled about either proposal. Can you imagine a teacher having a bad day and pulling out her gun on her students? And I still don’t understand how banning guns will keep criminals from obtaining them.

I’ve read about law-abiding citizens using personal hand guns to stop criminals from hurting people. A 70-year-old man stopped a burglary at an internet café by pulling his gun and shooting the armed robbers. That’s a good thing. But I have also heard about citizens doing foolish things with guns. Think about the Trayvon Martin case right now. George Zimmerman may have had the right to defend himself, but did he really need to be out with a gun that night? This is the difficult part of the debate. There have been good and bad things happen with guns in the United States.

The problem is that we live in a sinful world that will never be completely free from violence. Because of that, there will need to be some way of protecting ourselves and families. The Second Amendment gives Americans the right to own guns. We also have laws that are upheld by police officers and sheriffs. Thankfully, I live close to the police department in Painesville. They have always responded quickly when needed.

Some have mentioned the need for more mental health organizations. I think that could be helpful. There have been legitimate cases where chemical imbalances in the brain have affected people I know. Treatment made a lot of difference. But that’s not the only problem. What about the sinful heart syndrome? Unless that is taken care of, the root problem will still be affecting all of us. I sincerely believe the promises in the Bible that “if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature” and that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When God changes somebody, there is a definite difference. I know this from personal experience. God has changed me and is slowly but surely building that kind of character into me.

That, I think, is the biggest need worldwide. But until more people experience this change, the government will have to figure out a way to hold back sinful people from acting out their desires. And individuals will have to make wise decisions about defending themselves when necessary. I’m not confident that they will ever get that completely figured out to everyone’s satisfaction. But I am confident that it will be taken care of when Jesus returns to rule the earth. I’m looking forward to that but don’t have much hope that more laws about guns will affect the changes we really need.

Where was God when that happened?

During a discussion about the recent tragedy, someone asked me that familiar question. Where was God when that happened? The idea is that a loving God should always stop tragedies from happening. And since bad things continue to happen, God must not exist. The truth is that many people have rejected the true God of the Bible and have substituted one of their own making. In their perfect dream world, this new god only loves people and keeps bad things from ever happening. Like a jolly grandfather, he overlooks their failings and accepts people as they are.

The problem with this idea is that it isn’t a good description of the one, true God of the Bible. God is love but he is also holy. He is merciful but also just. At times He protects and at other times allows us to experience the consequences of our choices. He created Heaven and Hell. He hates sin enough to send people to Hell but loved the sinful world enough to provide an escape from that through Jesus. This is a much different God than what most people think about.

The other thing that is often overlooked is why God would want to help any of us? Not many people care a thing about God until they need him. They curse his name, break his commandments, mock the Bible, and want nothing to do with him until something terrible happens. Then, it’s his fault. But is that really fair to him? Why should he care about you and your problems when you want nothing to do with him during 99% of your life?

I know the God of the Bible and he deserves much more credit than he has been given recently. I know from experience that he has loved me despite my many failings. He gave his Son to die a cruel death nailed to a wooden cross for my sins. And despite the fact that I was walking away from him and enjoying my sin, he still reached out to me and turned my heart to himself. I don’t expect him to shield me from every terrible event that happens. Look at the experiences of Job, David, Stephen, and Paul. They each went through very difficult life experiences and yet they still loved and trusted God.

I haven’t gone through the types of sorrow that others have. And neither do I want to go through them. But I am convinced that if and when I have to experience something horrible, that he will keep his promise to “never leave me or forsake me.” He will walk me through it and give the needed grace and peace to make it through. And some day when my life is over, he will graciously wipe away the tears from my eyes. And then I will thank him for being with me all the while.