Time to change our political system.

The current political environment in our nation attracts a certain type of individual to run for office. Unfortunately, such people are not the ones we need running the country. With Russia and Ukraine on the brink of war, ISIS galvanizing strength with its penchant for brutality, storm clouds forming in East Asia, and a host of domestic issues plaguing this nation, we need a new breed of leaders not the same old politicians.

We need men and women who place the welfare of this nation first, not their own reelection. Instead we have politicians who say anything to get elected, irrespective of how deceptive or inaccurate their comments. They convince themselves and their constituents that politics requires such behavior because their opponent will say or do anything to defeat them. As a result, we have two chambers of Congress filled with lying, conniving, self-serving men and women.

In contrast, we need individuals who speak with honesty and integrity and demand the same of their political allies and supporters. We need men and women who serve with humility – who serve their constituents not their party. Humility requires senators and congressmen recognize they don’t have all the answers and work collaboratively with the other side of the aisle. Their first instinct is to identify common ground with peers and develop solutions for the nation’s problems, not lock horns, saber-rattle, and frustrate progress. Sadly, most politicians do what their party wants and adopt an all-or-nothing approach to legislation. Compromise is viewed with disdain.

It should surprise no one, then, that the men and women who would serve admirably in Congress and achieve significant results for our nation rarely entertain the idea of running for office. They are unwilling to subject themselves and their families to the ruthless, despicable, and mean-spirited rhetoric that courses through most campaigns. They are equally unwilling to level such corrosive discourse against their opponents because they value integrity and respect more than victory. Sadly, our current system appeals to those who value victory more than veracity or gentility.

We need a new political structure that displaces the two party system currently in place, which is destroying America. Leadership from both parties focuses too much attention on securing and maintaining majority power and too little on making the nation great. They exploit for political gain every misstep of the other party and its leadership. They play political gotcha with each other’s statements.

Both parties frame elections in ridiculously inflammatory terms. One side argues the other side opposes our nation’s safety, promotes lawlessness, and despises freedom. The other side insists its opponents are waging a war on women, hates the poor, and is racist. Such extreme language accomplishes nothing except fuel the bombastic cancer corrupting the capital. Unfortunately, painting opponents as extremists appears to persuade a majority of voters and so the season of silliness continues. On that point voters bear a portion of the blame for the decline of our government’s effectiveness.

We need a new system and new breed of politician because the two parties share disturbingly similar positions on critical issues, despite their supposed differences. Perhaps most problematic is that both parties are beholden to advancing the interests of wealthy individuals and corporations, at the expense of the middle class and poor. Money funds campaigns. So neither party will ever prioritize the good of the country over those with obscene wealth – they can’t afford to. The ubiquitous campaign ads in which candidates claim to support the middle-class are fraudulent, mere rhetoric to hoodwink voters. Politicians advance the interests of the middle-class only when it aligns with the interests of the elite.

Additionally, both parties covet power and will do anything to retain it. Sitting senators and congressmen exert enormous power and influence. So it’s no surprise federal elections attract those who lust for power and want to monetize that clout. In contrast, those lacking a passion for influence and affluence rarely possess political ambitions. Any desire to make a difference in Washington is outweighed by the sleaziness they would have to subject themselves. Capital Hill is not for anyone unwilling to get a little shady.

Bottom line is, we can do better. We must do better. Our current system serves the interest of no one except corrupt politicians, the well connected, industry elites, and the uber wealthy. We cannot afford to maintain a political structure designed to help those groups. It’s time we replace the current construct with one that genuinely serves the people rather than gives it lip service.

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Customized Faith.

Increasingly, American consumers demand customized products. From coke bottles that bear individual names to homes designed to meet the exotic tastes of an eccentric buyer, manufacturers recognize the affiliation purchasers have for personalized goods and offer them with growing frequency. They understand that consumers will pay a significant premium for products tailored to their specific palates.

This phenomenon thrives in matters of faith as well, even among American evangelicals. This significant segment of Christianity confesses religious orthodoxy and a literal view of the Bible, yet it ignores passages of Scripture it finds uncomfortable. Most evangelicals view Christianity primarily from a benefit perspective. What can God do for me? They eagerly receive His love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, promises, and blessings. They believe God wants to shower them with these gifts and requires little in return – perhaps regular church attendance and an appearance of holiness but nothing more.

Sadly, many evangelical pastors and leaders enthusiastically peddle false or compromised gospels that reinforce this view so they can line their pockets with thirty pieces of silver. They readily preach and promote what evangelical audiences want to hear and explain away any objectionable lesson Jesus taught. Sharing the whole truth of Scripture jeopardizes their position, income, and status. Better to preach half the truth and enjoy prosperity, reputation, and acclaim then advocate the entirety of the Bible and walk in camel’s hair eating locusts and wild honey.

What most evangelicals want, and most church leaders willingly teach, is a gospel that legitimizes their current lifestyle. They demand a faith that does not disrupt their dreams, does not inconvenience them, makes no difficult demands, and allows them to enjoy all the accouterments of this world. They insist on practicing a faith that offers the best of both worlds: a life of comfort, pleasure, leisure, and wealth in this world, and eternal life with God in the next.

What such evangelicals fail to understand, however, is that Jesus routinely rebuked that form of faith. He emphasized time and again the considerable cost of following Him as a disciple. In describing His expectations for those who place their faith in Him, Jesus asserted, “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,” (Luke 9:23). Later He added, “whoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:33).

The crux of these two verses is that following Christ is a full-time commitment that requires we go all-in. The result is a life so transformed that no one recognizes us. We put to death our own interests, plans, and desires, and replaced them with His. Does this sound more challenging than what the church teaches? Would you prefer a faith that is easy to follow? If so, consider the counsel Jesus offered His disciples. “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the path which leads to life, and there are few who find it,” (Matthew 7:14). Christ does not mince words about the challenge of becoming His disciple. It will be difficult. So difficult, in fact, few people actually find eternal life.

I encourage readers to meditate on these verses. Seek guidance from the Holy Spirit as to how your life should reflect these words from Jesus. Resist the temptation to disregard them or embrace the idea that Christ didn’t really mean what He said. Your salvation is at stake.

Signs of End Times – Part I

I traveled regularly when I worked in the corporate world and occasionally I would experience a flight delay. In one instance a severe storm swept through the area I had been visiting causing a two-hour delay. Since I had not eaten yet, I walked to a restaurant just around the corner from my gate and ordered dinner. In an effort to optimize time I pulled out my laptop and began working on a presentation.

After an hour I poked my head around the corner to see if the weather had further delayed my flight. Imagine my surprise when I noticed no one in the waiting area and the gate information sign had been updated to reflect a departed flight. I hustled to the gate agent, asked about my flight and learned it had just left. Apparently a brief break in the weather allowed the pilot to secure clearance from air traffic control to depart. The airline had loaded passengers quickly and then left the terminal.

I protested and asked the agent why she hadn’t made an announcement on the PA system. She informed me that she had made several such announcements. Evidently I was so focused on getting my work done that I had not heard the updates. I had allowed something of secondary importance, my work, to distract me from that which was of primary importance, going home. As it turned out, that was the last flight out the day and I missed it. I was left behind.

God knows how easily the things of this world distract us. We get focused on things of secondary importance such as our careers, education, reputation, entertainment and even our friends and family. Often they distract us so much we lose focus entirely on the one thing of primary importance, our relationship with God. Our time with Him diminishes to a point of such insignificance that we are unable to hear His voice. The cacophony of voices demanding our attention prevent us from hearing His guidance for our lives and His instruction for our decisions. We do not hear Him sending us a message just I did not hear the gate agent make her announcement over the PA system.

Unfortunately, failing to hear and respond to God’s call carries far greater consequences than failing to hear an update on a flight departure. We risk missing the return of Christ and failing to join Him when He takes His followers to their eternal home. Billions of people will miss that ultimate journey because the world distracted them. Sadly, many of those will be folks who thought they were following the Lord all along.

I think that risk of distraction is why Scripture informs us of the signs that reflect end times. God wants us ready when His Son returns to gather His people. He does not want us caught unprepared and therefore left behind. Let’s examine a biblical passage (2 Timothy 3:1-5) that identifies some of the signs of the end times and see what we can glean from it.

In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy he observes, “in the last days times of stress will come,” (2 Tim. 3:1, NKJV). Certainly many in the world are experiencing significant stress in their lives today, perhaps unprecedented for some. Paul then proceeds to list a number of sinful behaviors that people will manifest in later days. Of course, all of these sins have been evidenced since the beginning of time. In today’s world, though, they seem to be growing exponentially in frequency and intensity. Here are several he mentions that appear especially germane in our world today. You may want to consider whether you reflect any of these behaviors in your own life.

People will be lovers of themselves. With the explosion of social media, reality television, and the phenomenon of the selfie, it is rather obvious that our culture has fallen in love with itself. People love to promote, adore and celebrate themselves, and encourage others to join them in their acts of self-aggrandizement. Our society has become crazed with becoming famous, popular, and esteemed by others. We have evolved into a culture that celebrates self. The danger in this is that intense love for self precludes the presence of God – who demands we love Him supremely.

People will be lovers of money. Greed. Our society lusts for money with increasing ferocity and money has become the dominant motivation for much of our nation. Political, corporate, educational, and cultural leaders seem to base their decisions on what generates the most income, not on what is best for others or on what is right and wrong. That has had catastrophic consequences on our nation and will contribute significantly to its impending economic collapse. America’s love for money has reached idolatrous levels and God abhors idolatry. Greed is destroying our culture and, sadly, the church along with it.

People will be boasters, proud, and haughty. Arrogance has evolved into an art form. Athletes talk smack to one another and exclaim they are the greatest. Politicians speak of themselves in glowing terms and insist we revere them. We emphasize to others our educational pedigrees, our career successes, and our achievements in the world. Listen to conversations around you and many focus almost entirely on themselves and their accomplishments. The emphasis on me, me, me, has become an epidemic in our nation’s dialogue. It represents pride, which the Lord loathes. This sin is especially notable in that it has infiltrated the church, contributing to its declining power and influence in the nation.

People will not exercise self-control. This sin seems to capture the overall condition of our world today. Everything seems to be out of control. The economy, the government, world affairs. Even the weather appears out of control. But the lack of order in these areas is merely symptomatic of the lack of control exercised by those managing the economy, operating the government, and leading world affairs. Our inability to control our behavior, spending, dialogue, attitudes, and anger have generated the conditions ripe for war, corporate exploitation, governmental abuse of power, exploding debt, and severe weather extremes. Sadly, our leaders are trying to solve the symptoms without addressing the cause: our lack of self-control.

People will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. While Christians may readily agree this applies to our nation, I encourage them to reflect on whether the sin exists in their own life. Most believers pursue pleasure with the same fervor and focus that non-Christians do. Most Christians enjoy entertainment as much as the secular culture and take relaxing vacations, follow sports, enjoy spa treatments, and participate in fun activities as frequently as non-believers. The fact is, most of those in the church love pleasure every bit as much as our unchurched neighbors. We justify it by insisting the pleasure we pursue is godly fun and not the sinful pleasure the world pursues.

But Paul does not distinguish between the two in this passage. He simply asserts that people will love pleasure rather than God. And that is the connection we fail to understand. Our love and pursuit of innocuous pleasure is as dangerous as the non-Christian’s love and pursuit of wicked pleasure. Why? Because both distract us from God and loving Him. As Christians we may profess to love God but our pursuit of leisure, fun, and adventure often reveals our true love is pleasure.

That will offend many who will insist God wants us to have lots of wholesome fun and any other view is legalistic. But that is not what Paul teaches. When we direct most of our free time toward the pursuit of pleasure, it is evidence we love pleasure – and as a result do not love God. We have become distracted by the lures of this world and are in grave danger of missing God’s call when He returns.

Based on Paul’s signs that return is very likely in the near future.

Where are all the prophets?

The past couple weekends I spent considerable time in my car driving to relatives on one occasion and a distant ballpark on another. I listened to the radio during most of my travel time, primarily contemporary Christian stations. While the music was uplifting I noticed a distinct trend in the messages of these recording artists. They sing almost exclusively about God’s love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, peace, and joy, and revel in His blessings, promises, hope, and commitments. Their emphasis draws on biblical truth that encourages, inspires, comforts, and sustains believers. During my twenty-plus hours of driving more than 95% of the songs I heard focused on those themes.

On the one hand, I enjoyed these positive, uplifting messages. They align with God’s word and definitely represent an important component of the gospel. On the other hand, I was troubled that very few songs addressed the difficult lessons Jesus taught and emphasized during His ministry – ones we find uncomfortable today. His challenging messages on discipleship, repentance, denying ourselves, forsaking all, counting the cost, humility, and avoiding the lures of the world are as equally true and important as His message of love, mercy, and forgiveness. In fact, you cannot experience one without the other because both sets of truth represent God’s word and reveal His character.

But in recent times the church has shifted its focus to those themes highlighted on Christian radio while ignoring the difficult ones Jesus preached on so often. Sunday sermons rarely address Jesus’ most challenging teachings because congregants have little interest in hearing those truths. As a result, a generation of believers understands the gospel only in the context of the benefit they receive from it and know nothing of the cost. They are familiar with God’s blessings and promises but have little familiarity with Christ’s expectations, especially on those topics that lack appeal in our culture. A quick perusal of the local Christian bookstore reveals the same trend with authors. Lots of books address biblical truths we want to hear while few tackle the portions of Scripture that disinterest us.

So where have all the prophets gone? Why are most of our preachers, singers, writers, and evangelists focused primarily, often exclusively, on those aspects of the gospel everyone wants to embrace? Why do so few share that part of the gospel that challenges listeners to follow Christ in full, even when doing so is difficult and runs counter to our desires?

As I see it, there are several reasons for this trend. First, preaching, singing, and writing a message that everyone wants to hear generates more income, popularity, and influence for the pastor, singer, or author. Such attractive perks do not accrue to those who share Jesus’ challenging lessons. Since most want the status, affluence, and power enjoyed by the Pharisees, they share only those Scriptural truths people find appealing. Few are willing to bear the disrespect, contempt, poverty, and social isolation endured by Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist.

Also, most church leaders today have a blind spot with respect to some of Jesus’ most difficult teachings. They have explained away the true meaning of His words for so long that they no longer understand the simplicity of what He taught on subjects such as discipleship, sacrifice, and the dangers of this world. God has withdrawn from them an ability to comprehend His truth on these subjects because they have no desire to preach it.

Finally, congregants insist pastors, musicians, and authors share only palatable truths. They have itching ears that demand soothing words that reinforce their beliefs irrespective of their alignment with Scripture. They use the power of their wallet to demand easily digested spiritual food, even if it results in an imbalanced and nutritionally compromised spiritual diet – like a three-year old who demands to eat only candy and cookies.

But a gospel that captures only half of what Jesus taught, that reflects only half the Scriptures, is no gospel at all. It is a dangerous doctrine that leads down a path to eventual destruction. That is why we need more pastors willing to preach the entire gospel, recording artists willing to sing about the difficult truths Jesus spoke, and authors willing to address the challenging messages of the Bible.

I am not suggesting Christian leaders ignore God’s love, mercy, peace, hope, forgiveness, promises, and joy. Those are as critical to the gospel as His call for repentance, complete submission, obedience, sacrifice, humility, and the full embrace of discipleship. We need both. We need teachers and leaders who share both as the full gospel.

Recognizing the dearth of teaching on several critical areas of biblical truth in this country, I will use this blog to address some of these topics in upcoming posts. The content will challenge most readers and make many uncomfortable, but I encourage you to read the articles anyhow. Avoid dismissing the message as nonsense. Instead, explore what Jesus taught on these matters and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in understanding. You may find yourself awash with a fresh, exciting faith as a result.

Taking Time to Thank God.

In his gospel account of Jesus’ life, Luke recounts an incident that highlights the mercy and generosity of Christ. As Jesus and His followers entered a village during their journey to Jerusalem, ten lepers saw Him from afar and cried out for healing. Moved with compassion, Jesus cleansed each of them from the horrible disease, which allowed them to re-enter society and enjoy life once again (since in those days lepers were expelled from society).

One of the lepers returned to Jesus, praised Him, and expressed his gratitude for Jesus’ blessing. In fact, Luke tells us he glorified God with a loud voice – he didn’t just whisper a quiet, ‘thanks,’ and move on. Surprisingly, this leper was a Samaritan, an ethnicity generally viewed unfavorably by the Jews and considered unclean. In contrast, the other nine lepers never offered thanks or made any effort to recognize Jesus’ blessing. Evidently they were too busy getting on with their lives. His healing created a situation where they now had so many activities on their calendar that they couldn’t afford the time to praise and thank God for His kindness.

We’re like that sometimes, too. When confronting a difficult circumstance or painful situation we often turn to God and ask for His mercy, blessing, intervention, or help. We request He heal us, find us employment, give us a perceived need, or extend His protection. Then when He answers our prayer we often return to our demanding schedules and frenetic lives without crediting Him for what happened or lifting a prayer of praise to Him.

What does that say about our faith when we have no difficulty finding time to cry out to God when we need Him but cannot spare a few minutes each day thanking Him for the many blessings He has rained down on us? Does it reveal a degree of selfishness in our hearts? Does such behavior indicate a less mature, perhaps even less authentic faith?

Fortunately, God is gracious and not vindictive. He never withdrew His healing from the nine lepers who declined to thank Him. He doesn’t demand we express our gratitude when He answers our prayer. He doesn’t inform us that His blessings are conditional on our appreciation. Yet, shouldn’t we extend our voice to Him in praise and worship whether He requires it or not. Is such a small act of gratefulness too much for us to offer?

I encourage you to set aside a few minutes every morning to thank God for the many blessings He has given you – perhaps during your commute into the office, while eating breakfast, or as you complete your morning exercise regimen. Develop a habit of offering gratitude to start each day.

Are you healthy? Thank God. Are you employed? Glorify Christ. Do you have any friends? Family? Offer gratitude to God. Do you have a roof over your head and a mattress to sleep on? Praise the Lord. Can you walk, see, hear, and think? What a blessing! Do you have the confidence of spending eternal life with God in heaven? Rejoice.

No doubt you can identify many more blessings for which to extend appreciation to God. Take some time now to do so and make today the first day of your new habit to praise Jesus for answered prayer and blessing.

Polls suggest GOP Senate takeover.

A slew of new CBS News/NYT/YouGov polls of Senate races suggest a growing likelihood the GOP reclaims the Senate in elections this fall. Let’s inspect the polling data and methodology of those polls first before examining the results.

Unlike most polls, these were conducted entirely online and not via telephone. Also, these polls surveyed registered rather than likely voters, meaning they probably underestimate the performance of the more motivated political party – the GOP this year. Finally, the pollsters weighted results to align with 2012 voting demographics, which again probably underestimates GOP performance since President Obama’s presence on the 2012 ballot motivated greater numbers of Democratic voters who typically sit out off-year elections.

With those caveats noted, the polls generally produced a margin of error (MoE) in the 3.0% range for any given state, suggesting a reasonable point-in-time poll. Results should encourage GOP leaders that a takeover of the Senate this fall is well within reach. The GOP currently holds 45 seats which means it must capture an additional 6 seats to control the Senate. Let’s consider the likeliest scenario for achieving that number based on these recent polls (I recognize other polls have slightly different results but focused on the CBS/NYT polls since they offer a consistent methodology and occurred over the same time period).

The Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia seats have always been considered the most likely to flip parties and polling in those states certainly support this. In fact, Steve Daines now leads incumbent (by appointment) John Walsh by sixteen points, 56-40. How much Walsh’s recent alleged plagiarism plays a role in these results is unclear, but a sixteen-point deficit at this stage in an election is a nearly insurmountable challenge.

Next, let’s consider incumbents who poll under fifty percent, which generally suggests a seat is in serious jeopardy. Four Democratic Senators currently poll under that threshold: Mark Pryor (AR) who trails Republican Tom Cotton by four points (50-46); Kay Hagan (NC) who is a one-point underdog to state-house leader Thom Tillis (48-47); Mary Landrieu (LA) trails Bill Cassidy by a single point (47-46); and Mark Begich (AK) who leads Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell (47-45). While each of these contests is within the margin of error and is appropriately considered a toss-up at this stage of the race, history suggests that undecided votes break for the challenger on Election Day. The GOP needs to pick-up three of these seats to control the Senate and that seems very possible, perhaps even probable at this moment in time (assuming that Landrieu does not avoid a run-off and Treadwell wins his party’s nomination over his far less electable opponents).

There are, however, two seats Democrats have set their sights on flipping from the Republicans: Kentucky and Georgia. In the former, Senator McConnell leads Alison Grimes by four points (50-46) and in the latter freshly nominated David Perdue (R) leads Michelle Nunn (D) (50-44). Perdue comes out of the gate strong after his recent primary victory and seems well positioned against Nunn who has been an accomplished fund-raiser to this point. It is possible the Democrats could steal one of these seats but the combination of conservative voters and President Obama’s sagging popularity make such a scenario unlikely.

There are a couple states that lack an incumbent and where the GOP candidate has run surprisingly strong: Iowa and Michigan. Joni Ernst leads Bruce Braley in the Hawkeye state (48-47) after a series of verbal flubs by the Democratic Congressman. In the Wolverine state Congressman Gary Peters trails Teri Lynn Land by a point (48-47). Though the two female GOP candidates lead by a narrow margin in both polls, the Democratic lean of both states makes the climb to victory more difficult for these two women. That said, both states are definitely in-play and provide solid evidence of how the GOP has expanded the field of contested seats held by Democrats.

We also ought to consider Colorado a competitive race where Democrat incumbent Mark Udall leads Congressman Cory Gardner (51-47). That is too narrow a lead for an incumbent to feel safe with less than a hundred days until the election, though he is better positioned than his colleagues in the South.

So where does that leave the two parties as we head into the final three months before Election Day? They remain in an intensely competitive race for control of the Senate. Watch where each party spends its resources over the next month to get a sense of where each believes it has the best chance of winning.

If I were advising the two parties I would urge Democrats to cut bait in Montana, Arkansas, and Louisiana and focus on winning Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, and Alaska. I would counsel Republicans to avoid wasting cash in long-shot races in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Oregon and focus on the elite eight: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, and North Carolina.

At this time I would place the odds of a GOP Senate takeover at 65% with a likely pick-up of between 7-8 seats. But much campaigning remains and with it plenty of time for more gaffes – and those can quickly transform a race or two.

Real vs. Faux Persecution

The State Department just released its annual report on religious freedom across the globe. It noted that in Syria “hundreds of thousands (of Christians) fled the country to escape ongoing violence from the government and extremist groups alike.” In fact, in the city of Homs the population of Christians collapsed from 160,000 to 1,000 over the past three years.

Meanwhile, recent reports from Iraq indicate that the jihadist terror group ISIS has forced tens of thousands of Christians to recant their faith, pay a faith tax penalty, abandon their homes, or suffer execution. As a result of these threats the city of Mosul, which once had as many as 60,000 Christians, now has none. They have all fled the area.

China continues its oppression of Christians who refuse to register with the federal government and follow its approved theology. Believers in Egypt and Libya remain the target of violence from groups that have increased their brazen attacks as new governments operate in those countries. Converts to Christianity in most Muslim countries are subject to the death penalty. And the list of countries persecuting the church continues to grow.

So when I learned of a recently released movie that addressed the topic of Christian persecution, I eagerly made my way to the theater to watch it. With the church suffering so much painful and dramatic persecution worldwide, I wondered where the film would concentrate its attention.

Imagine my surprise when I realized a few minutes into the movie that its focus was not on the actual persecution currently borne by the global church but rather on the fictional persecution of the American church. Instead of using the opportunity to raise awareness of the plight of real believers suffering real persecution and the real trauma that accompanies it, the director, Daniel Lusko, chose to create a production that is as preposterous as it is fictitious.

His plot revolves around the premise that a powerful U.S. senator needs the support of an evangelical minister to secure passage of a bill aimed at eliminating biblical Christianity. (Since the evangelical community exercises little power on Capital Hill these days it is a silly supposition). When the minister refuses to extend his support, the senator has the man framed for a teenager’s murder. We later learn the president (who bears a remarkably ridiculous resemblance to President Clinton) was in on the plot but washes his hands of any involvement when it unravels.

The movie is painful to watch. The plot is disjointed, the script nonsensical, and the acting terrible (except for Fred Thompson’s solid performance as the minister’s father).

But what really saddened me as I left the theater was not the seven dollars I wasted on the movie but that it did a tremendous disservice to the persecuted church. By pretending Americans suffer persecution the movie shifts the discussion away from the need to work tirelessly on behalf of our suffering brethren overseas and instead directs it at ourselves and the risk that persecution may come our way. It reflects the same parochial and insular view often adopted by the American church in the use of its resources and neglecting the needs of the global church.

The director seems to believe the American church needs to understand the risk of persecution arriving in this country and organize to stop it. Before we do that, though, I recommend we consider the benefits persecution has brought to the church in other nations. It sharpens their commitment to the Lord, eliminates those activities and objects that distract them from Him, purifies the church, removes the chaff from uprooting it, and sparks revival that drives church growth. In view of such significant and exciting results, perhaps a little persecution is exactly what we need.

Commentary: Faith, Politics, Culture, and Bible Prophecy.