Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture
DenisonForumBanner_400
 
"My goal is to tell as many police officers as I can that I love them, and I am thankful for all they do for us."  So said 10-year-old Savannah Solis to officers at a New York City precinct this week.  Savannah is from Tyler, Texas, where her father is a pastor.  When she learned about the shooting deaths of two New York Police Department officers last December, she painted and decorated 200 homemade thank you notes to give them.
 
One of our Cultural Commentary readers shared with me the rest of the story.  He is a good friend of the Solis family, and was moved by Savannah's kindness.  So he connected her with a NYPD officer he knew.  During their conversation, she prayed for him.  He was so moved, he spoke with other officers about her.
 
NYPD officers then raised money to invite her to New York, and JetBlue covered her family's flight.  A ceremony was arranged for her to address the officers.  She told them: "To my heroes, I want to say, 'Don't stop.  Please don't give up.'  Many do not care or appreciate the sacrifices you make every day, but I do. . . . Officers of New York City, you matter to me.  Officers all across America, you matter to me."
 
Savannah has declined sightseeing and all television interviews.  Instead, she says, "I want to see more police stations."  JetBlue will fly her in the future to London, where she will meet police officers there.  She has been invited to Los Angeles, Toronto, and Australia as well.
 
A high school senior in Wichita, Kansas is also making news today.  Emily Jones asked her school principal, Sherman Padgett, to hold an empty bucket as part of a senior prank.  He was reluctant, but eventually agreed.  Then student after student came by, dropping notes of thanks and praise into the bucket.  One said, "Thank you for making high school the best years of my life."  Another recalled how Padgett "helped me get through my eating disorder and helped me get into therapy."
 
The principal, who has served at the school since 2006, was deeply moved.  "Became a little emotional on some of them," he said.  "I kind of read them and thought, 'man, this is better than a paycheck.  This is why I do the things that I do.'"
 
Savannah and Emily give us reason for hope.  And they show us that our future is as promising as the young people who will inherit it. (Tweet this)
 
Paul encouraged Christians living in dark times, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).  We are to follow the example of the One who touched leprous bodies to touch leprous souls, who opened blind eyes to open blind hearts.  Now Jesus calls us his "body" (1 Corinthians 12:27).  What he did, we are to do.  And when we do, they will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35).
 
The reader who shared Savannah's story with me concluded, "Please pray for Savannah as she is a beacon of light in times of darkness."  So let's pray for Savannah, and ask God how we can follow her example today.  As she proves, one person's kindness can touch the world.
 
 
Publication date: March 5, 2015

 

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.

DenisonForumBanner_400
 
Benjamin Netanyahu made global headlines yesterday when he spoke to a joint session of Congress on the threat posed by Iranian nuclear weapons.  How should we view his remarks?  How are they relevant to you this morning?
 
Some compared the Israeli prime minister to Winston Churchill, courageously warning against appeasing a dangerous enemy.  Indeed, a bust of Churchill was presented to Mr. Netanyahu by Speaker of the House John Boehner before the prime minister spoke.  Others argued that Mr. Netanyahu's speech told us nothing we did not already know about Iran, threatened U.S.-Israeli relations at a perilous moment in human history, and served to advance the prime minister's popularity during elections at home. 
 
My purpose today is not to cast a vote in the debate, but to frame it in larger context.  George Friedman's The Next 100 Years has made popular the geo-political concept of "metanarrative."  This term describes a nation's overriding agenda in the world, its historic and cultural DNA as they motivate national leaders and their global actions.  Applied to yesterday's speech, we see three metanarratives at work.
 
The Israeli metanarrative is clear: the survival of the Jewish state.  Today Israel finds herself surrounded by Iranian proxies: Hezbollah to the north, Hamas to the west, and encroaching Shiite militants in Syria to the northeast.  Given Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's continued call for Israel to be annihilated, Israel is right to fear the results of a nuclear Iran.  Even if the Iranian regime never actually used nuclear weapons, their existence would embolden radical Muslim enemies of the Jewish state and escalate greatly the threats Israel faces.  Israel understandably is calling for an Iran with no nuclear capacity, and thus no ability quickly to make nuclear weapons.
 
The Iranian metanarrative goes back to the Persian Empire, five centuries before Christ.  Once the most powerful and culturally advanced civilization on earth, it was supplanted by Greece and then Rome.  Today's Iran is essentially the Persia of history.  Many of her leaders want Iran to recreate the Persian Empire, and see nuclear weapons as a significant means of expanding Iranian influence and power.  They want nuclear technology for energy purposes, and the threat or even existence of nuclear weapons for global leverage.
 
The American metanarrative essentially seeks to preserve the economic and security aims of the U.S. around the world.  We want Iranian help in combating the global threat of radical Islam.  We would like Iranian economic and energy resources to provide a counterbalance to Russia and China.  As a result, many of our leaders want to prevent Iran from nuclear weapons but not from nuclear technology.
 
How these three metanarratives conflict and align with one another will determine the outcome of the Iranian problem.  It has never been more urgent that Christians pray for peace in Jerusalem and Israel (Psalm 122:6), wisdom for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and spiritual awakening in the Middle East and around the world (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).  Will you take a moment to join me in such intercession, right now?
 
Note: for a review of Mr. Netanyahu's speech, please see Nick Pitts's Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses Congress.
 
 
Publication date: March 4, 2015

 

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.

DenisonForumBanner_400
 
Iraq was home to 1.5 million Christians just 10 years ago.  Their number is now under 150,000.  If the Islamic State (IS) and other terror groups continue their assault against believers, there may soon be no more Christians in Iraq.  (For more on IS, please see my new report, The Islamic State: What You Need to Know.)
 
Why is God allowing his people to face such persecution? (Tweet this)
 
 
Tom and JoAnn Doyle are longtime missionaries to the Middle East, and my very dear friends.  I pray every morning for their protection and ministry.  Tom's book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?, tells the incredible story of Muslims worldwide who are meeting Jesus in miraculous ways, including visions and dreams.  As a result of such miracles, more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 15 centuries.
 
His new book, Killing Christians, tells the other side of the story.  Tom profiles eight Christians in the Middle East who are risking their lives to follow Jesus.  I began reading it last weekend and couldn't stop until I was done.  I urge you to buy his book and share it with anyone who needs encouragement to follow Jesus courageously.
 
Here are some examples of what you'll find: A believer smuggles Bibles into Somalia by hiding beneath decaying corpses in coffins.  A Christian in Syria, speaking to an underground church, says of their shared faith, "This will cost us our lives.  We will die for this."  He and his friends have already purchased a plot of ground in which to be buried when they are martyred.
 
In Baghdad, a Muslim comes to Christ through the kindness of an American soldier who shared his faith and gave him a Bible.  A Christian in Saudi Arabia struggles to understand why her friend Mina was martyred while she was miraculously spared.  She concludes: "Too often, even Christians forget that our faith is not primarily for this life.  It is for the life to come.  We who are still here are the ones who have been left behind.  Our real life has not even begun, but for martyrs like Mina, it has."
 
A believer in Alexandria, Egypt who was spared by miraculous intervention knows that "Jesus left me here to lift Him up in Alexandria.  It's as simple as that.  I have no other purpose."  He knows he will probably be martyred one day unless he bows to Islam, but testifies: "I will never bow down but to Jesus."
 
Why does God allow such persecution of his people?  Tom notes that the threat of persecution for Western Christians is virtually nonexistent, but church growth in America has leveled off in recent decades while the Kingdom is growing in spectacular ways across the non-Western world.  His conclusion: "Jesus' message of love and reconciliation thrives in a climate where hostility, danger, and martyrdom are present.  Persecution and the spread of the gospel are as inseparable as identical twins.  Suffering propels the growth of Jesus movements around the world."
 
Tom closes by asking us two questions: Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?  Are you willing to die for Jesus?  He notes: "For you as a believer—if you answer 'yes' to the two questions—this is a spiritual game changer.  Everything will be different now."
 
How would you answer his questions today?
 
 
Publication date: March 3, 2015

 

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.

Follow Crosswalk.com