Christians & a Donald Trump Presidency

Donald Trump is the next president of the United States. While voter turnout was lower than it has been since 2000 election, it appears that white Evangelical voters were among the strongest constituencies to propel Trump to victory. In other words, my people, the group I associate with, helped place Trump in office. I woke up to the news that Trump was elected this morning and have been reflecting both on his victory and the path that placed him next in line for the White House, and what that means for us as Christians, now. I was not a Trump supporter, and was grieved because I thought both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were troubling options for our country, and the data that is coming out reveals a populace that also does not find President-Elect Trump very appealing (his unfavorable rating is above 50%). This indicates that, likely, most who cast a vote for him did so in response to his opponent, Secretary Clinton, rather than because of a deep belief in his candidacy. In other words, they were more fearful of a Clinton Presidency, with her lack of trustworthiness, her radical opposition to the pro-life movement, her opposition to a biblical sexual ethic, and other issues than they were fearful of a Trump presidency. I share their concern about Mrs. Clinton, personally, and could not vote for her. However, the populace voting for a candidate out of concern for their opposition leaves followers of Christ in an important position this morning.

There is a chance that many who voted for Donald Trump out of concern over Hillary Clinton will now sit back and relax, to a degree, thinking that they have experienced victory. This would be a mistake, particularly for those of us who make up the church. Now that one great concern (Mrs. Clinton) is no longer a threat, the Christian’s new responsibility is to recognize that the candidate who has been elected is a man who has personally embodied a liberal sexual ethic, a grossly negligent and even dismissive attitude toward women, minorities, immigrants and others and who shows little awareness of a Christian commitment. As followers of Jesus, we need to pray for and honor him as president, but we need to hold President-Elect Trump accountable to not only defeat a concerning political foe, but also hold him accountable to embrace a Christian ethic on issues such as life, the dignity of every person regardless of race or gender, and so on.

The American people have spoken and Donald Trump will soon be president. We should pray for him and honor him as our President, as scripture calls us to. We should rest comfortably in the fact that God is in control, and his sovereignty is not in question (as he would have been should Mrs. Clinton have won). We must also, however, speak prophetically to him and his government, holding him accountable to govern in a way that is consistent with a Christian ethic. We cannot afford to relax, believing the work is done when there is much at stake. We also cannot pretend that a man who self-identifies as a Conservative will necessarily insure a preferred future. In other words, now that the election is over, the work of the church is not done, it is just beginning.

So let us speak out with kindness and with grace. Let us call our government to a pro-life, pro-family, pro-women, pro-minority, pro-immigrant, pro-Constitution governance. And let us not take hope in any earthly government, regardless of political persuasion, remembering that our ultimate hope is in King Jesus.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & (soon to be) Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainer Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

When Heaven and Earth Collide

Alan Cross has been a friend of mine for quite some time now. As long as I have known him I have known of his concern for racial division in the US, but more specifically, racial division within the church. A man who practices what he preaches, Alan serves Gateway Baptist Church as their pastor and has led Gateway to faithfully engage all people, regardless of color or social identification. I was really excited when I heard that his book, a labor of love for him, was going to be published. When I got a copy to read, I was not disappointed.

In this book Alan shows himself to be one part storyteller, one part historian and one part theologian, and he does each area justice. His writing is compelling and thorough and so very helpful to those that want to follow Jesus, and embody his character. Alan does not mince words and does not mind speaking powerfully when it comes to his calls for us to be like Jesus. This quote is but one example:

The error of white evangelicals in the South in regard to racial issues and the power structures that supported the established racism was simply that they worked hard to affirm a culture in government, society, and their communities and churches that supported their way of life and their prosperity instead of using the blessings that they had received to be a blessing to others.

Intertwining historical review with cultural and biblical analysis, Alan lays bare the false presuppositions that founded the church’s opposition to racial and ethnic integration and challenges them with piercing biblical insight. Alan shows a keen insight into the historical issue of racial prejudices hiding under the auspices of the church and a robust understanding of the theological complexities that are at play.

If you are interested in racial reconciliation, and if you care about the church’s role in that effort, this book would be a good place to start. I hope you will take the time to grab a copy for yourself.

Purchase the paperback here.

Purchase the Kindle version here.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & (soon to be) Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainer Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

41 years ago today, God help us.

41 years ago today Roe v. Wade became seared in the national consciousness as abortion became legal in all 50 states due to a landmark Supreme Court decision, citing women’s privacy as its foundation. The last 41 years have represented the loss of more than 50 million lives through abortion. Although the loss of life, at this point, is astonishing, there are signs that the tide is turning, and for this I am grateful. In the Washington Post yesterday Clarke Forsythe examined the increasing shakiness of abortion’s foundation in America, and Dr. Al Mohler has also pointed us to the horrific ethical problems with the push for more abortion, namely the blatant racism of some of abortion’s most ardent supporters. Fox News has also underlined some of the progress being made toward the elimination, or at least reduction, of abortion on demand in the USA.

This short video does a good job of providing a brief glimpse of the history of abortion in America since the Roe vs. Wade decision. I hope you will take some time today to pray that God will move in America, and that abortion will be eliminated.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & (soon to be) Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainer Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Guest Post : You can be Pro-Life and Missional

Today’s post is by guest blogger Daniel Darling. Darling, along with Dillon Burroughs and Dan King, are the co-founders of the dynamic Activist Faith movement (ActivistFaith.org). You can join these men as they shine the light on Christians who are moving beyond politics and opinion to actively engage 12 divisive social issues. Activist Faith shares biblical contexts, personal stories, and practical guidance for a new generation of Christian activists. Daniel blogs at DanielDarling.com

Activist Faith goes on sale today. If you would like to purchase Activist Faith, you can buy it by clicking here

One of the more popular criticisms of the evangelical church is its seeming obsession with politics. And in some ways this criticism is justified. At times we’ve become like Phariseeical moralists, pointing the finger at the culture rather than engaging it with the good news of the gospel.

Abortion is one of those areas where the Church has been loudest. And while there have been extreme and shrill voices, I believe this activism is justified. If we accept what the Scriptures tells us about the unique dignity of every human life, we must stand up for the innocent, as long as we have a voice. But this effort can be discouraging. Politicians and parties rise and fall. And while public opinion seems in our favor, there is no guarantee that it will translate into actual law.

But there is another way to stand up for the unborn, outside of the heat of politics: crisis pregnancy centers. While we are waiting and praying for Roe versus Wade to be overturned, there are opportunities to snatch babies from the precipice of death—in our own neighborhoods, one life at a time. And we have an opportunity to apply the grace of the gospel to young unwed mothers, helping them care for their children well after they give birth.

I’ve had the chance to work with a crisis center in our community. I’m amazed at the compassion, the love, and the effectiveness of this outreach. Though most young evangelicals might not see it this way, to serve and support a local CPC may be the most missional thing you can do. Not only are you shepherding a young girl through the biggest decision of her life, it provides an opportunity to share the good news of God’s love with someone who may feel as though their choices have left them ineligible for God’s grace.

CPC’s are surprisingly effective. In my book, Activist Faith (coauthored with Dan King and Dillon Burroughs), I shared some of the recent research:

According to a recent survey conducted by a consortium of national pro-life organizations, it is estimated that perhaps ninety thousand lives have been saved by the nearly twenty-three thousand crisis pregnancy clinics across America. Most offer ultrasounds to clients, which is highly effective, as an estimated 60 percent of women who view an ultrasound choose life. These clinics not only walk women through their various options but also offer parenting support and training, free resources such as diapers and food, and even post-abortive counseling. According to a recent survey of post-abortive women, seven out of ten said that if they had been given the opportunity to review their options, they would have chosen life.

Incredibly, the vast majority of crisis pregnancy centers run on a shoestring budget. Most are staffed by volunteers and funded by local churches. They see an estimate of about 2 million women every year, with each center averaging about 350 to 400 women. Despite being largely understaffed and underfunded (twenty-nine out of every thirty CPC workers is a volunteer), they serve on the front lines, rescuing people from the edge of death. (info taken from: A Passion to Serve: Pregnancy Resource Center Service Report, Second Edition: http:// downloads.frc.org/EF/EF12A47.pdf.)

Most Christians I know are fed up with politics. And while I don’t think we should abandon the public square, perhaps it’s time we put more of our emphasis on pro-life solutions that really work, like Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The women who come in are not Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. They are simply people whom God loves. When Christians stand read to offer them compassion and hope through the gospel, not only are babies saved from death, but entire lives and even families are transformed. This is meeting the needs of our communities, one life, one decision at a time.

We should still prayerfully engage our politicans to create laws that protect innocent life. But after the elections are over, when the legislative seasons are adjourned, there is likely a frightened, lonely, pregnant young girl somewhere in your community. She is contemplating the biggest decision of her life, often with little or no support from her family.

The question is this: will God’s people put their arms around this girl and show her God’s love?

 

 

 

 

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & (soon to be) Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainer Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

Kermit Gosnell : A horror story unfolds

kermit-gosnell_originalKermit Gosnell is currently on trial. He has been accused of murder after the abortion clinic that he owned was inspected and found to be a place of unimaginable horror. The testimonies, this week, of his former employees (many of whom have already been convicted of serious felonies for their involvement in this little house of horrors) are almost unimaginable. Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A childscreaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. These are among just a few of the unbelievably disturbing claims that are being leveled at Gosnell. In spite of that, it would not be a surprise if you have not yet heard of any of this as almost every major media outlet has refused to report on this trial, at least as of this writing. This seems almost impossible to understand. I saw one person yesterday who suggested that this kind of behavior, if it had been done to puppies in a veterinary clinic, would be front page news, and yet because it is about an abortion clinic, we hear almost nothing. Thankfully USA Today and NBC have come forward with stories. I would encourage you to read what they have written. Beyond that, the short video below will also help shed light on what has occurred.

Abortion is quite possibly the most horrific of all evils across the spectrum of the USA since our country was founded. In spite of its horror, what has gone on in Kermit Gosnell’s facility takes abortion to a whole new level of evil. It is so horrific, it seems that to me, that even the most strident abortion supporter should find it appalling. For those of us who oppose abortion, let us never forget what is occurring under the guise of protection of a personal right to privacy, and let us pray for those involved. May God forgive us.

*Warning* The articles posted, and the video below, feature horrific and disturbing details.

3801 Lancaster from 3801Lancaster on Vimeo.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & (soon to be) Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainer Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

The shadow of secularization and the new dawn of the church

The sky is falling. Secularization is on the rise, or so it seems. Positions long held by Christians as central to our faith are now massively unpopular and Christians are increasingly marginalized because of it. What is more, there seems to be a growing movement away from identification with Christ and his church and towards an embrace of no religious affiliation at all. This of course is leading to an increasing pessimism among churches that are being marginalized, and this pessimism is understandable. I want to suggest however, that this encroaching secularization may, in fact, lead to the dawn of a new era for the church, an era in which the church may actually prosper and grow like it has not in America in some time.

Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is coming. As of this moment it has not been recognized by the Supreme Court, but I have little doubt that it is coming. While it may not ultimately be determined by the Supreme Court, it will certainly be determined by the court of public opinion and in that domain, those of us who would advocate for a traditional understanding of marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman have lost. 58% of all Americans now believe the legalization of same-sex marriage is inevitable. 70% of all Millennials support same-sex marriage. Half of all US Senators have now publicly announced support for same-sex marriage and even prominent Republicans are joining that chorus. The verdict may not have been announced yet but, apart from an act of God, the verdict is now in. Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land, and it will happen soon.

With that said, I think the ramifications run deep. The increasing marginalization for those who support traditional marriage will only pick up speed as these decisions are ratified in the public square. It would not surprise me to see Christians who embrace traditional marriage, within my lifetime, viewed with much the same disdain as those who embrace white supremacy are currently viewed. Obviously this will increasingly diminish a conservative Christian ethic from the general acceptance in the marketplace and serve to push conservative Christianity to the margins.

Encroaching secularization
Another troublesome trend that seems to be discouraging many within contemporary Christianity is oft-reported, and regularly referred to as “the rise of the nones.” This phenomenon is the movement of significant numbers of Americans who previously identified with Christianity and who now identify as having no religious preference. This scares a lot of Christians, and the fear has been fueled by many in the media who may struggle to understand the nuances behind it and are reporting that Christianity is in substantial decline. Thankfully Ed Stetzer, who I work for, has been at the forefront of researchers who have identified that committed Christianity is not actually disappearing, but nominal Christianity is. In other words, what is actually happening is that those who have not really expressed any tangible commitment to their faith, but have previously identified as a follower of Christ, are now acknowledging what has probably been true all along, that is they are not actually believers.

The new dawn of the church
In spite of these incredibly fast-changing realities for the American church, I am not nearly as discouraged as one might assume. These changes, among others, would seem to indicate doom for the church, and yet I am convinced that there are reasons for hope.

1. Christianity is strongest as a counter-cultural movement, rather than as a form of civil religion.
In America we have long been told that America was founded on a “Judeo-Christian ethic.” While this may be true, it has unfortunately led to an unintended problem, namely that Christianity long ago began to be assumed by many inside and outside of the Christianity community. Anytime something is so broadly “known” that it begins to be assumed, or taken for granted, any attempts to learn about it will be subtly, but surely, diminished. Why learn about something that everyone already knows? This has certainly become the position of Christianity in the USA. Our churches are full of Christians who are extraordinarily unfamiliar with their bible, and as a result, they are unfamiliar with their faith. Of course, this is to say nothing about those outside of the church who are increasingly unfamiliar with the claims of our faith. Beyond this, assuming the faith has led to a diluted faith which is not a clear picture of the faith of Jesus at all.

As Christianity continues to be marginalized, and as those who claim the faith are reduced to only those who are most committed to the faith, this naturally leads us to a place where Christianity is no longer assumed. When it is no longer assumed, it becomes more and more difficult for it to be misunderstood, though it may often be dismissed, allowing the church a unique opportunity to declare and display the unique story of God to the world. This is a good thing.

2. Christianity is strongest when Christianity means something more than nominal identification.
This should be seen as one of the great blessings of “the rise of the nones” across the country. As we find fewer and fewer people who willingly assume the title “Christian” without any tangible commitment to the faith, a substantial barrier to effective evangelism comes down, namely the barrier of false belief. Those who have spent any time in areas cloaked with an aura of Christianity understand how difficult it is to share our faith with people who are far from God, and yet are convinced that they are in the faith.

Another wonderful consequence of the changing moral norms, and the decreasing identification with Christianity, is the number of those who are convinced of their eternal security because of their ability to adhere to a moral code is also reduced. In other words, those who have embraced a sort of moralism as their faith, and interpreted that moralism as Christianity, are going to disappear. This dilution of authentic faith is problematic to gospel expansion, and as it disappears, the growth of the gospel seems more likely. Again, these are good things.

3. Christianity is strongest when we assume a missional posture.
Missional activity occurs most naturally in an environment where Christianity is not regularly seen or understood. I know this is true for me, personally. For instance, when I find myself in a foreign country that is unfriendly to the gospel I find myself more intentional in my behavior and my conversations. I find myself more accommodating, relationally, to those who disagree with me. This is often not true when I am in the majority.

Sadly, my story has too often been the story of the church in America. The church has assumed a position that could be considered anything but missional. Far too regularly we have talked down to those who disagree with us. We speak using verbiage that most do not understand, and we expect them to modify their behavior if they want in our “club.”

As Christianity is marginalized in America; as most are not only non-believers, but are aggressively opposed to our faith, I think the church will find itself increasingly forced into a missional posture. This, of course, is a good thing.

4. Christianity has historically thrived when it is the minority.
History tells us that Christianity is most sharp; it is most clear and it is most aggressive, when it is in the minority. It is when the faith becomes generally accepted as normative that the church begins to function lazily, when lethargic, and even lapsed faith often becomes the norm and the church begins to decline. We have seen this over and over throughout the millennia.

So the decline of the church’s supposed influence may, in fact, be the spark that leads to a renaissance of our faith. Even, potentially, the persecution of those who identify with Jesus could be a blessing. It was early church father Tertullian, after all, who reminds is that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. While I do not foresee martyrdom coming in the US, his point stands. The isolation and marginization of the church may end up being the fuel that drives her growth. This is a good thing.

To be fair, it should also be noted that history does not always indicate the best future for post-Christian corners of the world. The middle east and western Europe are not exactly shining examples of our faith on display after Christianity has moved off the scene as a dominant force.

In light of all of the above, I think the church should approach the future with some level of brevity. We should be aware of the challenges that are ahead of us, but we should not run in fear. The future can be bright, for all the reasons I laid out, and even more. Most of all, the future is bright because God is good, He is still sovereign and He loves his bride, the church. And this is a great thing!

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & (soon to be) Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainer Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.