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

Dr. Jim Denison engages contemporary culture with biblical truth

DenisonForumBanner_400

Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Most global leaders had expected the U.K. to stay in the EU, but the vote was fifty-two percent for exiting the twenty-eight-member bloc.

The withdrawal process will take up to two years, so nothing will change immediately. But make no mistake—this is a historic event. One British lawmaker called the outcome "a seismic moment for our country." Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will resign. Global markets plunged; the Dow Jones is projected to fall more than 500 points when it opens this morning.

Brexit proponents were especially frustrated about immigration. With a net migration of 330,000 people to the U.K. in 2015, more than half from the EU, many felt their national identity was under attack and that the influx endangered schools, housing, and health care.

"Take control" was the slogan of the "Leave" campaign, and it clearly resonated with the people. As The New York Times noted, "referendums are not about the question asked but the political mood at the time, and the political mood is sour."

That may be an understatement. 

In the U.S., Democrats and Republicans are condemning each other for inaction on gun control. The president is condemning the Supreme Court's decision that thwarted his efforts to expand immigration through executive action.

We are anxious about the economy. Writing for Foreign Affairs, Dartmouth economist Douglas Irwin notes that productivity gains from technology caused eighty-five percent of the manufacturing job losses between 2000 and 2010. Such jobs are not coming back. Globalization and innovation are making a new economy that victimizes those who cannot adapt.

Many Christians are anxious about religious freedom. There's been a national uproar after a thirty-three year veteran of the Air Force was forcibly removed from a retirement ceremony because he invoked God in a speech. (For more, see Nick Pitt's article.) More than three-quarters of evangelicals feel religious liberty is more threatened than it was ten years ago.

The impact of the Brexit for the U.K. and the world will unfold across coming months. But whatever comes of today's news, here's the good news: Our well-being does not depend on being well. Facing his "thorn in the flesh," Paul testified: "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Jesus predicted a world filled with "tribulation," but he taught us to "take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:30). While "the world is passing away along with its desires," we are promised that "whoever does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:17).

A principle of sports psychology is to "control the controllables." I cannot control the global impact of the Brexit, but I can control my decisions and priorities. A phrase I read this morning struck me: "Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10). This is not a suggestion or principle but a present-tense command. Every moment, in every situation, seek and do what would most please God.

You may not please the world or be pleased by it. But you will live a life that matters. And that's what matters most.

Publication date: June 24, 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.

DenisonForumBanner_400
People in Britain are voting today on whether their nation should stay in the European Union (EU). For the rest of us, this seems like an issue with little relevance outside of Europe. 
 
Actually, what British voters decide today will affect all of us tomorrow.
 
Dubbed the "Brexit," the question of Britain's leaving the EU has been debated for months. Economists fear that a vote to leave would undermine London's position in the world financial order. The chief of the NATO alliance says trans-Atlantic security would be stronger if Britain remained in the European Union. 
 
If it left, however, Britain could establish its own trade agreements. It would no longer contribute to the EU budget, saving a net of 8.5 billion pounds per year. Brexit supporters say leaving would give the nation greater control over immigration as well.
 
Here's why their vote affects us all. According to The Washington Post, a Brexit threatens more than a trillion dollars in investment and trade with the U.S. The International Monetary Fund predicts that a Brexit could reduce economic growth by up to 5.6 percent over the next three years. However, Brexit supporters say that leaving would strengthen the EU's unity around the Euro and make Europe a better trading partner for the world. 
 
Our planet is still 24,874 miles around (at the equator), but it feels smaller than ever. A radical Muslim leader in Iraq inspired terrorism in San Bernardino and Orlando. The Zika virus began in Uganda, but the World Health Organization says it is now a global public health emergency. Authorities warn that Mexican drug cartels currently pose a greater threat to Americans than ISIS.
 
We are connected morally to the world as well. A worldview shift called "postmodernism" began in Europe but is now just as powerful in America. Its central thesis: since our minds interpret our senses, "truth" is personal and subjective. As a result, there can be no objective moral standard on issues ranging from abortion to euthanasia. It seems that everything is now in play: support for polygamy is rising quickly, genetic engineering is on the horizon, and virtual reality pornography is here.
 
Here's why I wrote today's Cultural Commentary. I was reading Ephesians and came to this text: "They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity" (Ephesians 4:18–19). Does it seem that Paul was writing to our culture?
 
Here's how we should respond: "Having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another" (v. 25). Lost people deserve to know they are lost.
 
But beware a condescending spirit of superiority or judgment: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (vs. 31–32). Oswald Chambers warned: "You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person."
 
Living and speaking biblically with courageous humility is God's call for this hour. The Brexit debate shows that the world has come to us. How will you take God's word to the world today?
 
 
Publication date: June 23, 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.

DenisonForumBanner_400
Donald Trump met yesterday in Manhattan with nearly a thousand evangelical leaders. Nick Pitts, our Director of Cultural Engagement, attended the meeting as an observer. Trump was asked questions about religious liberty, national security, leadership, immigration, marriage, racial tensions, and America's policy toward Israel. According to Nick, the meeting was civil, with no endorsement of the Trump campaign. Though some were clearly supportive of him, others were obviously skeptical.
 
However, a large group of pastors have made clear their personal endorsement of the presumptive Republican nominee. Pastors supporting Hillary Clinton have done the same. One group of ministers made news when they gathered around "President-to-be Clinton" to "decree and declare the favor of the Lord upon her."
 
Pastors supporting politicians is a phenomenon with a long history. Leading up to the 1800 election, some ministers warned that Thomas Jefferson was an atheist who could not be trusted as president. Prior to the 1960 election, Norman Vincent Peale led a consortium of ministers who were opposed to John Kennedy because he was a Catholic. 
 
I am not writing today to encourage or discourage ministers from supporting political candidates. There is no law against such personal endorsements, so long as ministers do not use their churches for political purposes. Some of my pastoral mentors make their political commitments public, while others (like me) choose not to do so. 
 
I am a staunch advocate for the separation of church and state. However, I am equally opposed to the separation of faith and state. The church should not be a political organization, but Christians should be involved in politics whenever God so leads. In fact, I believe that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call. William Wilberforce is just one example of a Christian who changed the world through political means.
 
While I encourage Christians to consider political service, here's the caveat: we must not trust politicians to do the work of the church.
 
Followers of Jesus are called to care for our "brother in need" (1 John 3:17), to "visit orphans and widows in their affliction" (James 1:27), to serve the hungry, naked, and imprisoned as though we were serving Jesus (Matthew 25:44–45). No government programs can care for hurting people as effectively as Spirit-led Christians who incarnate the sacrificial, unconditional love of Jesus.
 
As sociologist James Davison Hunter documents, electing Christians to office is not enough to change the culture. Divorce rates escalated during the Reagan administration; gay marriage made significant inroads during the George W. Bush administration. Neither was their fault, of course, but both illustrate the fact that winning elections is not enough to advance the Kingdom.
 
It's one thing for evangelicals to ask Donald Trump how he would lead our nation. It's another for evangelicals to ask ourselves how we will serve our nation. As salt and light, Christians are the conscience of the culture, the conveyors of grace, the means by which God's message of salvation is to be shared.
 
Whoever becomes our next president, God is still our King. How will you endorse him today?
 
 
Publication date: June 22, 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.

Follow Crosswalk.com