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Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Dr. Jim Denison engages contemporary culture with biblical truth
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Last night, Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for president, calling the November election "a moment of reckoning." She made history as the first woman to be nominated for the White House by a major party.
 
Last week I analyzed Donald Trump's nomination from cultural and biblical perspectives. Let's do the same today with Hillary Clinton's candidacy.
 
How did she defeat Sen. Bernie Sanders? The Wall Street Journal has analyzed their race, with fascinating results:
 
•    Clinton won nearly four million more votes than Sanders. 
•    She won 75 percent of the African-American vote and evenly split the white vote. 
•    She and Sanders evenly split the "very liberal" vote, while she decisively won "somewhat liberal" and "moderate" voters.  
•    She won voters sixty-five years of age and older (71 percent) and all education categories (from less than high school to post-graduate).
•    She won in all income brackets and in all types of counties (from big city to suburban).
•    The only groups she lost were independents (63 percent voted for Sanders) and voters seventeen to twenty-nine years of age (which Sanders won by 71 percent).
 
What factors explain her success? 
 
One: Preparation. A Gallup poll showed that 62 percent of Americans believe Clinton "has the experience it takes to be president." After serving as First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State, it's hard to imagine how she could be more prepared for the Oval Office.
 
Two: Gender. According to a CBS News poll, 72 percent of voters (including two-thirds of men) say they hope to see a woman president in their lifetime. Four out of five American voters say the US is ready to elect a woman president, twice the percentage that said so twenty years ago.
 
Three: Continuity. According to a Pew survey, three-quarters of Donald Trump's supporters believe life in America has gotten worse; only a fifth of Clinton's supporters agree. The demographic groups who supported Sanders are those who want to see change; those who voted for Clinton want stability.
 
To summarize: Hillary Clinton's supporters want to make history (by electing a woman) while maintaining the present (by electing the continuity candidate). Clearly, Americans want practical hope. In a day of global terrorism and economic stagnation, they want someone to make a difference. 
 
That's where you and I come in. The first Christians met the physical needs of their community, earning the right to meet spiritual needs (Acts 4:32–34). Today's Christians must do the same.
 
Consider this example: Mission Arlington celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this Sunday. It started "taking church to the people" when Tillie Burgin began a Bible study in an apartment complex in Arlington, Texas. The ministry has grown to reach an average of 3,200 people every Sunday in 349 locations; it also operates medical and dental clinics and a host of other programs.
 
My wife and I have known and loved Tillie and her family for three decades. We have seen firsthand how God uses their servant hearts and practical grace to advance his Kingdom. To observe their milestone anniversary, they ask simply that people pray for them.
 
Tillie was once asked why she works twenty-hour days and gives herself to others so selflessly and tirelessly. Tears came to her eyes as she said simply, "I just love Jesus so much." 
 
Let's love Jesus enough to love those he loves.
 
NOTE: Nick Pitts, our Director of Cultural Engagement, is reporting this week from the Democratic National Convention. For more, see our Facebook page.
 
 
Publication date: July 29, 2016

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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The nation's first African-American president took the stage at last night's Democratic National Convention. He was then joined by the nation's first woman nominated by a major party for president. There was a time when neither would have seemed plausible. Just as it would have seemed implausible that the Republican Party would nominate a candidate with no previous political experience. 
 
This is the promise of America: where we've been does not limit where we can go.
 
Today's New York Times reports that James Alan McPherson died yesterday at the age of seventy-two. He overcame segregation to graduate from Harvard Law School and became the first black winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Meanwhile, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" is credited with raising $115 million for ALS research, helping fund the discovery of a gene tied to the disease.
 
But good news is not the only news in today's news.
 
Christianity Today is reporting on the devastation of pornography in our culture. Studies have linked it to depression and higher drug and alcohol consumption. Boys who view pornography are less likely to form healthy relationships. Yet only half of US adults and one-third of teens and young adults consider pornography to be wrong.
 
NPR reports that Americans are overdosing on heroin and prescribed painkillers at epidemic rates, their number quadrupling from 1999 to 2014. According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who believe that churches contribute to solving social problems is at its lowest point in the history of the survey. 
 
How can God's people demonstrate the relevance of God's word to our culture?
 
David enjoined us to "turn away from evil and do good" (Psalm 34:14). It is not enough for God's people to refuse evil—we must work to replace it with that which is righteous and good.
 
Moral obedience is vital for the health of our souls. As Oswald Chambers noted, "No one ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test regarding it. We disobey and then wonder why we are not growing spiritually." Obedience positions us to receive the power and provision our Father intends for us.
 
Moral obedience is equally vital for the health of our nation. Historian Bill Federer cites several leaders who have acknowledged this fact. For instance, President Dwight Eisenhower stated in 1951, "Without a firm moral foundation, freedom degenerates quickly into selfishness and license. Unless men exercise their freedom in a just and honest way, within moral restraints, a free society can degenerate into anarchy."
 
General Douglas MacArthur warned later that year, "History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster."
 
In 1968, historians Will and Ariel Durant noted, "The greatest question of our time is not Communism versus individualism, not even East versus West; it is whether man can live without God."
 
The answer to that question becomes clearer every day.
 
 
NOTE: Nick Pitts, our Director of Cultural Engagement, is reporting this week from the Democratic National Convention. For more, see our Facebook page.
 
 
Publication date: July 28, 2016

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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The Democratic Party made history last night by confirming Hillary Clinton as the first woman to be nominated by a major party for the presidency. Her husband told the story of their first meeting and life together, encouraging the crowd and the millions watching on television to trust her as someone who gets things done.
 
While democracy made headlines in Philadelphia, its enemies continued to do the same around the world. French President Francois Hollande declared the murder of an eighty-five-year-old priest in Normandy to be an ISIS-inspired attack. Police had identified one of the killers as a suspected terrorist, but they failed to stop him. Authorities have flagged more than ten thousand radicalized individuals in France.
 
Their country is by no means the only nation under siege. Syrian state TV is reporting that forty-four were killed in a massive bombing there. Suicide bombers killed thirteen people in Somalia. Israeli forces have killed the Hamas militant responsible for a drive-by shooting that killed a rabbi earlier this month. And that's just this morning's news.
 
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face? What can we do? 
 
The obvious answer is to pray. Scripture is clear: "You do not have, because you do not ask" (James 4:2). If we ask, it will be given to us (Matthew 7:7). John Wesley believed that "God will do nothing on earth except in answer to believing prayer."
 
But it's easy to wonder if praying together actually changes the world. So consider this: During the dark days of World War II, British Major Wellesley Tudor Pole proposed what became known as the "Silent Minute." He suggested that people devote one minute each evening at 9:00 to praying for peace. Both King George VI and Prime Minister Winston Churchill supported the idea. 
 
On Sunday, November 10, 1940, BBC radio began broadcasting the chiming of Big Ben as a signal for the Silent Minute to begin. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraged the Silent Minute, which spread across land and sea to battlefields, air raid shelters, and hospitals.
 
After the war, a British intelligence officer was interrogating a high Nazi official. He asked him why he thought Germany had been defeated. The official replied, "During the war, you had a secret weapon for which we could find no counter measure, which we did not understand, but it was very powerful. It was associated with the striking of the Big Ben each evening. I believe you called it the 'Silent Minute.'"
 
In 1994, a British group revived the Silent Minute. It has become a global movement, with more than 124 million daily participants. Each evening at 8 PM Central Standard Time (9 PM Eastern, 7 PM Mountain, and 6 PM Pacific), I will join millions of others in praying for our nation and the upcoming election. I invite you to join us, beginning tonight.
 
Max Lucado noted, "When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works." We can do no greater work than praying for Almighty God to work. Do you agree?
 
NOTE: Nick Pitts, our Director of Cultural Engagement, is reporting this week from the Democratic National Convention. For more, see our Facebook page.
 
 
Publication date: July 27, 2016

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

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