The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will threaten the lives of millions of Americans for decades to come and will morph our Supreme Court into a political arm of the right-wing Republican Party.
In the last few days there has been an avalanche of anger, protests and outrage in response to the recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by President Trump. From the moment the announcement was made on Monday there were protests outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. and around the Nation. At the heart of these protests was the belief that the laws of America were going to be dramatically changed by the new Justice and that America would never be the same. Some of the fears and rhetoric about these legal possibilities have bordered on hysteria. Consider this reaction by former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as representative of the fears and hyperbole going on right now,
At the heart of much of the fears about Judge Kavanaugh's appointment to the Court is the fear by some that abortion will be restricted or made illegal in the future, gay marriage and sexual freedoms might be challenged, needed healthcare would not be available and laws might be interpreted in ways that would "threaten" people's lives...by the millions. As a result, the coming battle to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court promises to be intense and downright nasty as our culture wars over the Constitution, law, truth, right and wrong continues to unfold.
What a blessing to live in America! Like most amazing gifts given to us by the Lord, it is always possible to take our freedoms and liberties for granted and lose them amidst an often-unseen battle going on around us. As we stop on this 4th of July, we have many reasons to rejoice in the current progress for liberty and freedom for the Nation going on. Recent, important decisions made by the Supreme Court have been very encouraging regarding the upholding of our Constitution and the cause of freedom. This constant battle for freedom has always been going on in every generation and was seen clearly by our Founding Fathers. Consider the following comments by some of the pillars of American liberty and freedom and their personal understanding of the great battle for freedom and liberty that is always underway.
John Adams- "You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it."
Patrick Henry- "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Thomas Jefferson- "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
Thomas Paine- "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."
Samuel Adams- "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
If there is one hidden storyline that has dominated our lives the last 20 years or so it would be the absolute love affair the world is having with technology. Everywhere we look today people are falling in love with phones, computers, the Internet and a variety of high tech "toys" that seem to keep people almost under a "spell." And while many of us in the USA seem to be under the "spell" of this exploding technology, there is one nation that is on the "cutting edge" of it all. That nation is Sweden. And so, in a dramatic news item that appeared this week was the report that thousands of Swedes are microchipping themselves voluntarily to make their lives easier and more "techier" for a variety of reasons. The reason why this story is worth considering is because socialistic Sweden, and other parts of Europe, tends to offer a prophetic glimpse into our future here in the USA.
As a pastor, I have had a big connection with Sweden over the years. My grandfather was born and raised in Sweden and I have had the privilege to pastor a church there on two occasions, so I know a little more about the Swedes than many. The Swedes are wonderful people, but their society has been at the far edge of socialism and technology for a long time. The Swedes pay a huge amount of their income in taxes to support the "socialist dream" of a just and fair society. In addition, because of their cooperative socialistic spirit they have experimented with technology on a much deeper level than we have seen here in the USA. Over the past few years that technology has moved them toward a cashless society, which is almost a reality now. So as these many changes have emerged it is not surprising that the Swedes are moving into personal microchip technology on a level few Americans could really dream about...yet. And while it is just starting to catch on in Sweden, there is little doubt that it will begin to grow dramatically in the near future.
The word "Nazi" strikes fear and horror into the minds of almost everyone. Many people remember hearing about or seeing pictures and newsreels of the horrors of the death camps, torture and murder of millions at the hands of Hitler and his supporters in Germany. For the Jewish people in Israel and around the world today, the Nazis still evoke a visceral reaction as they reflect on the over 6,000,000 of their fellow Jews that were murdered during World War II. For Simon Wiesenthal, pictured here, the word "Nazi" was not an abstract concept. Mr. Wiesenthal was a survivor of the Holocaust himself. He was incarcerated in several camps during the war until his liberation from the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp on May 5, 1945 by the Allies. Following his release, Mr. Wiesenthal spent the rest of his life, until his death in 2005, searching out Nazi war criminals trying to escape their past, so they could be brought to justice. His tireless work and desire to educate the public about the horror of the Nazi era is commemorated in the Simon Wiesenthal Center located in Los Angeles.
And while most of the Nazis that lived during World War II are dead or nearing the end of their life, it is very important for the world to remember and understand the conditions that allowed the Nazi regime to take control of Germany and much of Europe during the 1930's and 1940's. History tends to repeat itself, so with Mr. Wiesenthal as a witness to the past, all of us should work together to educate the world so such a thing is never allowed to happen again. That desire is embodied in two words you will sometime hear quoted when looking back on the Holocaust and this tragic period, "Never Again!" May that be so in America today by God's grace.
Do you ever find yourself thinking about Heaven? That theme must surely come to mind every time we attend a funeral or drive by a cemetery. However, for many of us the thought of Heaven may seem very far away today with the busyness of life and not even real at times. And yet, if we believe in the Lord and His Word, Heaven has to be a regular part of our thinking. The wonderful thought of going to be with the Lord and enjoying the wonders of Heaven is at the heart of everything the Christian Faith teaches. That thought was central to our Lord Jesus as He prepared to go to the Cross and shared these comforting words with his disciples in John 14:1-3,
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
However, as wonderful as Heaven will be one day with our Lord, exactly how to get there is a topic on which few seem to agree, even in the Church. And while most people in the world today have some belief in an afterlife, there is little consensus on how to get there. You see we are now living in a global world, filled with multiculturalism. This great diversity of religious options and thoughts about God and a future Heaven have created a tremendous challenge to the Christian Faith and every true believer.
On this Memorial Day Weekend, we take a moment to stop and reflect on the immense sacrifices that have been made by countless men and women for our Nation and its freedoms. One of the phrases you will sometimes hear is that, "Freedom isn't free!" People realize that freedom is a very precious and fragile thing and that without constant vigilance and people willing to sacrifice for it, real freedom will be lost. The reason that is true is because we live in a fallen world in which there is a continual and constant attempt to subvert the Lord and the rule of law. As a result, there isn't a week that goes by when we don't hear about someone trying to overturn the rule of law, freedom and liberty and replace it with their control and manipulation. All you have to do is look at places today like Iran, North Korea, and Syria, Russia and Turkey where real freedom has been lost. This powerful truth was understood by the Founding Fathers of this Nation and by anyone who understands history and the power of sin to enslave people. Without the shedding of blood, none of us would be able to even read an article like this without the possible fear of jail and even death.
At the heart of Memorial Day is a surprising and shocking fact that almost none of us have ever met or known someone who died for our freedoms. I have never personally met a soldier who later died in combat. Most us never got to know the soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy or in Battle of the Bulge, or at the Tet Offensive or during Operation Desert Storm. Hundreds of thousands of people ended their young lives in the mud, in a ditch or laying on a hill far away in places virtually no one has ever visited or could even find on a map. For many of us those battles and places are totally unknown, much less the soldiers who died there and never came home. All one needs to do is take a tour of the American Military Cemeteries in Europe and around the world to realize that there were tens of thousands solders who paid the ultimate price that we knew nothing about. Perhaps that is the reason why it is easy to take Memorial Day for granted. For some it just doesn't seem personal or real. As a result, such incredible sacrifice is virtually unknown to most of the Nation this weekend.
If you really want to know what is going on today, as it relates to the future, keep your eyes on the visible Church and its leadership. The Bible is very clear that a major sign of the Lord's return is connected to the apostasy or departure from the historic Faith. After all, if the Church rejects the true Faith and embraces a false one, you have the seeds of deception and a willingness to embrace a false Christ or anti-Christ. This was the pattern in place during our Lord's 1st coming when our Lord was rejected and killed by the visible Church at the time. Surely, we are seeing that same pattern unfolding today through the Biblical confusion and movement away from the Christian Faith by growing elements within professing Christendom. One of the places where we are currently watching this unfold is in the ministry of Pope Francis. Since Pope Francis was elected to his office on March 13, 2013, the Pope has been at the center of regular controversy. From the beginning of his papacy, the Pope has made numerous statements that have left many Catholics and other Christians completely shocked and uncertain about the Pope's orthodoxy.
As an example, in the last few weeks the Pope has made a variety of public statements that have left people wondering if he even believes in basic Catholic doctrine like the existence of Hell or most recently that homosexuality is sinful. These doctrinal issues represent foundational Catholic and Christian beliefs that have defined orthodoxy for the last 2000 years. Those beliefs are found throughout Catholic statements of faith as found in the Council of Trent and the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. Regarding the reality of Hell, the Catechism states in Section IV-1035,
The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire". The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
As Mother's Day approaches this Sunday, it is a wonderful thing to have a day of the year set aside to honor all our mothers. In a way, every day is Mother's Day because without our moms we wouldn't be here. It never hurts to have a nice reminder about the important people in our lives so we don't take them for granted. And while the meaning of many of our holidays has changed over the years, Mother's Day still brings a warm spot for most of us. The one hope of this article is to not only honor and remember our moms, but perhaps have a deeper understanding of how the Lord has used them to teach us about Himself. After all, Mother's Day is not really just a holiday to buy some flowers, cards or have a nice dinner. Mother's Day started in Heaven before the world was created. All the love, warmth and good things we associate with the best of motherhood are really about the Lord and should point us to Him.
Whatever a person's beliefs or station in life, one thing we know for sure is that everyone has a mom. There is no such thing as a person who doesn't "believe in motherhood," or that moms "may or may not even exist." And yet, millions of people classify themselves as atheists and agnostics and have no real belief or certainty about the existence of the Lord. Few seem to see that you can't reject God and believe in motherhood because it really is the same story, right? Both moms and the Lord tell a story about our origins and where we came from in the beginning. So, you can't really just decide to accept mom and reject God. Sure, people do it all the time, but if you look at this issue a little closer it becomes very clear that God created moms to teach people about Himself. The Lord and motherhood tell the SAME story. Now what is so spectacular about this issue is that the evidence and witness that comes to us from our mothers is an overwhelming and unmistakable witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
For many Americans, the month of May is often connected with millions of students graduating from high school or some sort of higher education program. Many of us reading this blog may even be attending such a graduation for a family member or friend. Graduation can be an exciting time for people, filled with emotions that often mark a "rite of passage" for many of us. Graduations offer us a chance to look back on our achievements and a time to start looking ahead to where we might be going. And while Americans are spending billions of dollars each year to get an education, it has become increasing important to ask ourselves what people are really learning. The reason we need to ask this question is because it increasingly seems that our schools, colleges and universities are doing less and less basic educating. Instead, what has clearly been emerging since the 1960's is that our young people are being indoctrinated more and more with a culturally driven agenda that is often opposed to political conservatives and Christians that eliminates the real pursuit of knowledge and truth.
If we are honest with what is happening today, we would have to say that many of our schools are being run and dominated by a very small group of people that carry a progressive worldview that is directly opposed to the Lord, the Bible, the Church and this Nation's founding principles. And while the purpose of getting an education is to pursue knowledge and truth about life, it seems that a massive wave of political correctness has seemingly taken over many campuses in this Nation where even raising an opposing opinion can be dangerous. The once valued concept of schools providing academic freedom for their teachers and students is vanishing. Instead of allowing schools to be a place where ideas are discussed and tested in the real world, students are protected from life and reality with strictly enforced school policies that define "hate speech" or how someone not using the proper gender pronoun might have a problem with "micro aggression." Under such an environment one must wonder how much "educating" is really going on anywhere these days.
One of the greatest things we can do right now is to STOP, take a deep breath and look at the Lord Jesus Christ in a fresh way. He is everything that really matters today and forever. There is nothing else that is even a close second. As our world is seemingly spinning out of control, one must wonder how much of the Lord anyone is seeing. So often our Lord just seems to get lost amidst our busyness and religious lives. Now is an excellent time to draw near to our Lord's life and His purpose for our lives. The Lord wants us to enjoy Him and His gift of life by understanding and knowing Him on a deeper level. As we will see, every breath we take is a gift to praise, honor and worship our Lord. When the Lord gets our attention to that amazing truth we are changed forever. May that happen to each of us today.
If there is anything that defines our physical lives it is the fact that our heart is beating right now to bring breathe to our body. Without our heart beating and lungs breathing we would die in moments. Every day that simple process is repeated with our heart beating on about 115,200 beats, during which time we take in about 17,000-30,000 breathes. This miraculous process of life is taken for granted by most of us. And yet, this most basic process of life, that guides and sustains our physical lives, is the central witness to our spiritual purpose with the Lord. Let's examine that truth for a moment.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just completed his second day of questioning before Senate and House Committees regarding Facebook's role in our society and issues related to the possible manipulation of our liberties under the Constitution. If you have a chance to listen to the interviews, I would encourage you to do so and share them with others. The interviews are chilling to say the last and are a prophetic picture of the technology nightmare coming our way. It is already here! These interviews have to be one of the most important and scary interviews in American history regarding the future of our Nation, Constitution and the loss of freedoms in our Nation, the Church and our world today.
What started out as an initially innocent social networking company, designed to help people stay in touch and share their lives with their family and friends, has seemingly turned into a sophisticated web of manipulation and control for profit and political gain. In today's hearing before a Congressional Committee, Mr. Zuckerberg allowed the public to get a measured glimpse of what is going on behind closed doors at Facebook. Today's hearing made it abundantly clear that Facebook is engaged in political activism and has been using the data from its almost 3 billion users in an attempt to shape reality, control free speech, brainwash its users, manipulate their thinking, influence people's buying and selling, attack the Christian Faith and even determine political outcomes. And all most of us wanted to do was to share our latest vacation pictures with the people we love and care about.
The simple message of the Bible, our lives and the world to come is that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead. This is the foundation of the Gospel and our faith according to I Corinthians 15. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!!! As Easter/First Fruits arrive this Sunday, I want to share a few thoughts about the Resurrection that I hope will stir our hearts toward seeing the greatness and majesty of our Lord in the Empty Tomb and our modern lives today.
When the disciples looked into the Lord's Empty Tomb, they just saw the grave clothes that our Lord had left behind. What really happened in there? The answer, of course, is that our Lord's body passed right through His burial garments and left them behind. Nothing like that had ever happened in the history of the world! Our Lord's body also passed through the solid rock wall of the tomb as well. How is this possible? How is it possible for matter to vanish and pass through other matter? These are some of the questions of Resurrection morning and today. All these hard questions are relevant and important because what happened to our Lord's body is exactly what will happen to our bodies one day soon when our Resurrection Day arrives.
As Good Friday approaches next week, it is worth the time to stop for a moment and reflect on the Cross. Good Friday is a day of celebration that reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and more personally for our sins if we are Christians. And while some churches have Good Friday Services, much of Christendom will skip them and just go to Easter Sunday. Sometimes this skipping of the Cross has increasingly turned into a problem for the Faith because without the Cross there is no real Church, no redemption and surely no Empty Tomb. The centrality of the Cross totally changed the Apostle Paul and led him to say in I Corinthians 2:2,
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
The Apostle Paul realized that everything in life was and is somehow tied to the Cross. He made it his life's mission to know and proclaim Christ crucified and how that old, rugged Cross revealed the heart of the Lord to our world. As Good Friday draws near, let's take a fresh look at the Cross and how the Lord has placed it at the center of everything in our lives today, whether we understand it or not.
The private funeral for evangelist Billy Graham was held yesterday at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC before 2400 guests. Millions of others, from all over the world, watched the service online or on television. Billy Graham was 99 years old and will be buried next to his wife Ruth at the same library dedicated to his life and ministry. Billy Graham truly lived an extraordinary life. As a result, he was honored at his death by being only the fourth private citizen in United States history to lie in state at the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C on February 28-March 1. Graham is the first religious leader to be honored. At the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Graham "America's pastor." President Donald Trump said Graham was "an ambassador for Christ." Many other tributes and accolades came in from all over the world to honor Graham and his ministry.
If you didn't know anything about Billy Graham, you would have to acknowledge that Billy's life had some sort of deeper meaning from Heaven's perspective. After all, Billy Graham spoke to over 200 million people in person during his ministry, the most of any person in human history about any subject. That number is only a fraction of those who heard him by radio or television over the years. Clearly, the fact that Billy Graham had such influence in the world for the Gospel and with Presidents and world leaders shows him to have had an extraordinary calling from the Lord. Billy's calling was most likely not even fully understood by himself.
We live in fascinating times. Do you agree? One of the great pictures of that fact is the recent emergence of the term "Deep State" into our culture. Have you heard about it? That term, which is now being used frequently, has just come into our vernacular during the last Presidential election cycle. The term has been used to describe officials in the government that are working behind the scenes to sabotage and subvert the constitutionally elected leadership of the Nation. In other words, the "Deep State" refers to people that are breaking the laws they are put in charge of upholding. This lawless behavior may include revealing classified materials, violating the Constitution, manipulating and destroying people's lives without due process and even attempting to remove the President from office through a legally manipulated impeachment. There is no question that our Nation has moved into a very scary time when the rule of law is not being upheld by those appointed to do so. So, when the police become the criminals you have reached a turning point in any society.
As Christians and students of the Bible, the lawless patterns underway in the "Deep State" are not new. The story of the Bible is about another "Deep State" going on against the Kingdom of God from the beginning. The Bible's view of the world is that a group of individuals under the influence of demonic power are working against the Lord and His legal and righteous authority and purposes in the world. The entire course of human history can be explained using this storyline...including the current drama in Washington. This lawless spirit, that refuses to submit to the Lord's authority, is embodied in the spirit of the antichrist, a spirit that is the enemy and counterfeit of the Lord Jesus Christ and His rightful authority over our world. The Bible tells us in I John 4:1-3 that this spirit is at work right now.
Few issues have so polarized America recently as the idea of building a border wall to keep illegal immigrants from entering our Nation. All you have to do today is just raise the issue of illegal immigration and building a border wall and you have created a firestorm. We saw that drama come to a head this past Tuesday as President Trump gave his "State of the Union" speech, outlining his plan to build a wall to help stop illegal immigration. And while a strong majority supported the plan, others have resorted to soaring rhetoric that condemns all such walls as a reflection of white privilege, racism and mean-spirited politics that are not reflective of America's greatness for all people. For some, the building of such a wall is something that even God Almighty would not do, so how could we think of it? After all, many people strongly believe that God would only unite people and never divide them with walls or unfair laws.
At the heart of this great battle and debate is the idea that our common humanity with others overrules any immigration laws. As a result, increasing numbers of people are beginning to call for "open borders" where people are seen as citizens of the world, not any particular nation. This growing belief has even led to the formation and growth of what are called "Sanctuary Cities" that see themselves being raised up to protect vulnerable immigrants from laws and regulations that are unfair and ignore the needs of our fellow human beings. This sanctuary movement has recently grown to the place where the State of California has now become a "sanctuary state," the first in America's history. Right now, this showdown between our laws and the politics over immigration policy is perhaps one of the greatest dangers to our Nation as a whole, since its outcome will dramatically shape America one way or another for the future.
Happy New Year! For many people the New Year is just another day. For some it is a holiday, a time to party with friends or a chance to watch a football game or parade. Now that the New Year is over...so what? Does it really matter that it is 2018, or any New Year for that matter? After all, new years have been coming and going from the beginning of time. Did you ever stop and think that something as simple as the New Year is really the key to understanding the meaning and purpose of our lives?
Few people ever stop to think that a New Year marks the beginning of something new, namely a new cycle of the Earth around of the Sun. Right now the Earth is turning at 1000 miles/hour on its axis every 24 hours. In addition to that rapid turning, the Earth is moving at 67,000 miles/hour around the Sun. And if those numbers don't surprise you, stop and reflect on the fact that our Solar System is orbiting around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy at 490,000 miles/hour. And while we may sometimes think that not much is happening around us, we are in a drama that cannot be fathomed by the greatest scientist.
In what must be the #1 Biblical story of 2017, we see the astonishing announcement that the Israeli government is seriously considering naming a future new train station near Jerusalem's Old City after President Donald Trump. As you may recall, President Trump just acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel's capital on December 6, and vowed to move the United States embassy there from Tel Aviv in the near future.
As we shared in a previous edition of the Carlson Report on December 7, Jerusalem has always been the center of the Lord's purposes for us through our creation and redemption and so Jerusalem is not only the eternal capital of Israel, but of the world. Because the prophetic things under way are so spectacular, we need to catch our breath and take a moment to reflect on exactly what is going on because the events are momentous for the entire world.
As Christmas and New Year's comes around every year, most of us have the sense that time is passing, and we are watching it happen. But few know where it is going or what it is about. The most important thing for us to know regarding the passing of time is that all of it is about two key events in history and life, namely, the first and second Coming (or Advent) of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, no matter when a person has lived throughout history, they either have been or are waiting for one of the Lord's comings. Once we begin to understand that fact, the passing of time and life itself will begin to make sense. Joyfully, there is a plan in place that we can understand. Without such a plan and purpose for time, life can end up just becoming a series of meaningless events that come and go. Sadly, that is the way most people see life and even the holidays.
When life doesn't make much sense, and the passing of time becomes weary and dreary, people get depressed and despondent. This Christmas, many are being gripped with a crisis of meaning and purpose that are reflected in some shocking statistics. As an example, a current Wall Street Journal article reports, "Drug and Alcohol Deaths at U.S. Workplaces Soar", was written that reflects our society's growing pain. The article goes on to state that drug and alcohol deaths in the U.S. have jumped more than 30% in 2016 alone as the struggle with a deadly opioid epidemic migrates to the workplace. Without a meaning and purpose to life and the passing of time, people don't know where to turn. This, of course, is not a new problem in America. It is part of the human condition and our broken lives. In the Bible, King Solomon spoke about this emptiness of life in Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 without God's purposes when he wrote,
During each Christmas season the Christmas story comes down to each of us answering the question that our Lord Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:15, "Who do you say I am?" You see our faith and future all come down to how we answer that central question. Now if you remember the Apostle Peter's answer in the next verse he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Peter told our Lord and the world that Jesus was the Christ (Man) and the Son of God (God). The mystery of God becoming Man is the heart of the Christmas Story that the Bible teaches, and is the meaning of life. Unfortunately, most of the world evidently doesn't believe that right now. Vast numbers of people have a variety of ideas about who Jesus is. Seemingly fewer and fewer believe He is God in the flesh. And those numbers will continue to decrease as our Lord's Second Advent draws near. The purpose of this edition of the Carlson Report is to share why I believe that God became Man. My hope is to communicate a common-sense apologetic for Christmas and the Christian Faith in an increasingly confused world.
The central reason I believe God became a Man is that without that fact there is no ultimate and meaningful relationship to God! Without that personal connection to God we are only left with a few pleasures and joys in our relationships with humanity. And yet, the greatest pleasure of life is to enjoy and personally know God. That is the supreme delight of our humanity, namely to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If God is not human, the personal joys of life and our relationships with others can never find home with God Himself. This fact would keep us relationally separated from our Creator, which is the definition of sin itself.
In an amazing move of boldness and courage, President Trump declared today that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and vowed to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv in the near future. Prior to today's announcement, Jerusalem had been the only national capital city of any sovereign state where the United States had not placed their embassy due to political tensions. In a desire to support Israel's right to exist and name its own capital, President Trump said,
That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem embassy act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.
And while this move, a Trump campaign promise, was hailed by many as wonderful and long overdue, it has been challenged and cursed by many others as an unnecessary provocation and a possible prelude to war with the Islamic world and beyond. The rhetoric on both sides is very heated right now and that surely will not change. However, even though this issue is "up in the air" for the foreseeable future, it is an issue at the heart of the Lord's eternal purposes for all of us. It is an issue that every person on Earth should be prayerfully considering tonight and thinking about for their future.
One of the saddest, but most insightful events going on today is the explosion of sexually exploitive behavior against women. Lately, it seems there is not a day that goes by without some new national figure being caught for sexually inappropriate behavior. The most recent case of NBC anchor and icon Matt Lauer being fired for such behavior is part of a shocking tsunami of sexual abuse that has been going on for years. Sadly, what we are hearing about is probably just the "tip of the iceberg" and we can be sure that in the days ahead other women will be coming forward to challenge those in power and the public eye with new allegations of sexual wrongdoing.
Did you ever stop and ask, "How did we get here as a nation?" How did America end up spending much of its news and media time covering the sexual excesses and abuses of its leaders? Surely the issues underway now have been building for over a generation. And while all of this tells us a lot about our society and politics, it ultimately tells us much more about human nature and what the Lord is trying to say to us.
One of the most important issues of life is finding a place we call "home." As the old saying goes, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." Whether we realize it or not, we are all hardwired to long for a place we call "home." The confusing part of that issue is the fact that where we live may not ever feel like home. Sometimes we live in places that just end up being a place where we sleep at night. Home is far more than a bed to sleep in at night. Home is a feeling, a state of mind, a place that means something to us on a personal and/or spiritual level that cannot be put into words. And because the average American moves about 11 times in their life, the idea of finding a real home can feel almost impossible for some.
One of the great stories about the search for home is told in the 1939 classic movie "The Wizard of Oz" starring Judy Garland. In the movie, Judy portrays a little girl named Dorothy that runs away from home and can't seem to ever get back there. The entire movie follows Dorothy's travels in her search to go back to her home in Kansas. Throughout Dorothy's journey she runs into a wicked witch that seems to make the return trip seemingly impossible. The culmination of the movie is when Dorothy finally clicks her ruby slippers together and says over and over, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home." The movie ends with Dorothy back in her Kansas home where she lives "happily ever after" with her family. The power of that timeless movie endures until today because we all want to go home.