Posts Tagged ‘Billy Graham’

Morning Prayer for Friday, September 7, 2018 — “The loving arms of God”

September 7, 2018

Image may contain: sky, outdoor, water and nature“The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Sheltering arms express the loving protection of God’s spirit. Human beings, in their troubles and difficulties need nothing so much as a refuge, a place to relax where they can lay down their burdens and get relief from cares. Say to yourself: “God is my refuge.” Say it until its truth sinks into your very soul. Say it until you know it and are sure of it. Nothing can seriously upset you or make you afraid, if God is truly your refuge.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may go each day to God as a refuge until fear goes and peace and security come. I pray that I may feel deeply secure in the Haven of His spirit.

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Reflection By The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

07 SEPTEMBER, 2018, Friday, 22nd Week, Ordinary Time

RESISTING THE DYNAMISM OF CHANGE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 CORINTHIANS 4:1-5LUKE 5:33-39 ]

We are living in changing times.  The world is moving so fast that it is becoming very difficult to keep up with the changing values, cultures and technology.  Once it was a crime not to believe in God; now one is ridiculed for professing faith in God.  Once abortion, divorce and same-sex union were condemned, today it is accepted as a fact of life.  Indeed, the traditional values of purity, fidelity in relationships and marriage, the definition of marriage and family have all gone through a revolutionary change.

We are bewildered at what is happening in the world and even in the Church.  Those of us who have been brought up with the traditional values of marriage, fidelity and filial piety are confused as to why the present generation has abandoned such time immemorial values.  Today, in a world of relativism, we find it difficult to take a stand on any matter because the world does not believe in absolutes except relativism.   So, we are left confused and uncertain.

Fortunately, for us Catholics, the Church remains the pillar of truth and our guide in moral and religious life.  St Paul says of the Church, “You may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”  (1 Tim 3:15)  For over two thousand years, the Church has remained strong and firm because of the structure and institution of the Church. It had withstood the test of time and the ravages of war, moral decadence and scandals.

But it is also a double-edged sword.  On one hand, it gives stability, but on the other hand, because it is so structured, it kills and stifles creativity.   Institutions tend to be rigid and unchanging because of the traditions and laws that have accumulated over the years.  Those who are recruited into the institutions continue to uphold the laws and add in new ones as well.  This was the case for Judaism.  The laws of Moses were multiplied and elaborated over the years.  Along the way, in trying to apply the laws of Moses in new situations, they added new customs, rules and practices.  So much so, the laws became burdensome, too detailed and onerous, making it impossible to practise all of them.  This is true of the Catholic Church as well.  We have so many laws governing every area of Church life and faith.  The Code of Canon Law is not the only laws.  There are many other laws in addition to Canon Laws, such as liturgical laws.  It would be a miracle for anyone, even the bishop, to remember all the details of the laws.

But now, the institution of the Church is under question.  Because of scandals at the highest echelon of authority of the Church, the power play and politics of high officials of the Church, people are doubting the credibility of the Church leaders and therefore there is distrust and suspicion of Church authorities.  The current scandals of the Church have exposed the weakness of these institutions.  Even with all the laws, many do not keep them or merely circumvent them.  At any rate, the institutions of the Church are often prone to corruption and abuses.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The weakness of the Catholic Church is that power is too centralized on the Pope, the Curia, the bishops and the religious superiors.  There is a lack of checks on power.  Because they have the final authority in many matters, there is always the temptation to abuse their powers, suppress the truth, cover up injustices and scandals, and most of all, using their powers for personal interests, gains and glory, and not for the service of the Church. Indeed, as a consequence, financial scandals and moral corruption are taking place.

Indeed, the first change that is drastically needed is to revise the institutions of the Church. In those days when only the clergy were more educated, governance was the responsibility of pastors.  But today the laity are more educated and better trained in the mundane areas of the world, such as finance, administration and governance.  We should be relegating such authority to our lay people to manage the Church.  We should go back to what the apostles did in the early Church when they appointed deacons.  They proposed, “Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.”  (Acts 6:3f) Unfortunately, those who are in control are not willing to share their powers with the laity, especially women, much less to let go of their powers.  So long as the hierarchy of the Church is not willing to let go of their powers and go back to their main role, which is to be ministers of the gospel and the sacraments, the Church would become more and more alienated from the world.

The second change needed is to revise those outdated laws, morality or disciplines of the Church to meet the changing needs of our people.  Of course, this does not mean that we should abandon the truth of the gospel.  Moral laws which are based on natural laws and divine revelation cannot be changed because they are founded on the truth that Christ has revealed to us.  Rather, what is important is to see how we can apply them effectively for the service of our people, to help them to grow in their faith and more importantly, to live out the values of the gospel. Let us not pretend that our people who live in a very secularized world are able to live up to the pristine truth of the gospel.  Many of them have in fact succumbed to the pressure of accepting the values of society for fear of being rejected, discriminated or lose out to the world in work, career and advancements in life. This is particularly true when it comes to sexual morality.

For this reason, we must look for new approaches to proclaim the gospel.  It is not enough to proclaim the truth but to convey it in such a way that it could be understood and accepted and even applied.  What is the use of teaching beautiful doctrines when no one can live them out?  This was the case of the Pharisees who wanted to keep the tradition.  They were actually not bad people.  They were like those conservative and traditional Catholics who want to do the right thing, keep the traditions and cherished values of our forefathers.   Unfortunately, time and tide wait for no man.  If we do not engage the world effectively now, we will lose them.

Jesus is the new wine, filled with the Holy Spirit, who dared to bring about a change in communicating the eternal truths of His Father’s love and mercy.  He chose to proclaim the gospel differently from the Jewish religious leaders of His days. Instead of preaching punishment, He spoke of God’s love and mercy.  Instead of avoiding the sinners and tax-collectors and prostitutes, Jesus went out of His way to reach out to them.  Instead of preaching in the Synagogues, He chose the countryside, the empty wastelands and the shores to teach the gospel.  Instead of quoting the prophets of old, He used parables taken from daily life experiences to communicate His experience of God.  Instead of fasting to show off, He fasted only for a good reason, “when the bridegroom (is) taken away” Instead of preaching slavish obedience to the laws, He did works of mercy through healing and exorcism.

Unfortunately, they could not accept Him and His ways. Hence, Jesus remarked, “And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new.  ‘The old is good.’”  We are not ready to change.  We do not have the courage or the will.  We are afraid to take risks or to step out of our comfort zone.  We just want to stick to the old ways of doing things, the traditional ways instead of finding new ways to proclaim the same gospel of love and mercy so that people can see the relevance for their life happiness and meaning.

Indeed, this is what is required of us, servants and stewards of the gospel, as St Paul says.  Let us take heed of the warning of Jesus.  “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on a new cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old. And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost.  No; new wine must be put into fresh skins.”  We must be courageous to adapt and change without changing our fundamental moral principles.  In other areas where it does not compromise the unchanging truths of our faith, especially liturgical expression in worship, the Universal Church should allow the local Church more freedom to inculturate their faith in a way that the local people can express their faith in prayer, worship and according to their cultural values. Unity cannot mean uniformity.

Let us all, regardless of whether we are bishops, priests or laity, be good stewards of Christ’s mysteries.  “People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust.”  Let us purify our motives, whether in keeping the traditions or modifying for today’s generation.  At the end of the day, we are accountable to God.  “There must be no passing of premature judgement.  Leave that until the Lord comes: he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts.  Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.”

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Morning Prayer for Thursday, August 30, 2018 — Practice Prayer as You Do Other Virtues

August 30, 2018

“Quiet your heart and mind and, for the next few moments, be present to the One True Presence.”

Invoke your Higher Power. Pledge yourself to his power and care. Share a few moments of silence. Just as anxiety is the great scourge of our age, prayer and silence are the bane of anxiety.

“Oh God, rid of us anxiety and the disorders that follow. Be our guiding light always. Take away the darkness and fear.”

Prayer is the main building block of “Peace of Soul.”

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“Each of us is called to ‘Be a Beacon,” the one saint I knew told me. “Be a beacon. A beacon of calm in the storm. A beacon of strength amongst weakness. A beacon of prayer and virtue among despair and wretchedness.”

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Related:

   (Includes more on the virtues)

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It is only by and through the gift of the Holy Spirit that we are able to connect to God. It is His Spirit who lives in us and prays through us, linking us to our heavenly Father.

We need to connect to Him constantly (“Pray without ceasing,” as noted in 1 Thessalonians 5:17), because we are, sadly, very leaky vessels.

How do we do that? By continuously glancing heavenward, giving God a smile and telling Him, “I love You.” It’s like throwing “little straws upon the embers,” (according to St. Therese of Lisieux) and by taking “prayer pauses” throughout the day.

In honor of this Year of Mercy, I thought I would share with you what St. Faustina had to say about prayer in her diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul,” and then, invite you to pray some very beautiful prayers (all taken from my favorite prayer book, “Hearts of Fire, Praying with Jesuits”).

“Prayer — A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer.” — St. Faustina Kowalska, 146 (69)

https://www.lifezette.com/2016/05/prayer/

Related: Billy Graham’s Daughter: Prayer Trumps All

Morning Prayer For Saturday, August 25, 2018 — “I am In the World, But Not of The World”

August 25, 2018

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Thought for the Day

“Unless we discuss our defects with another person, we do not acquire enough humility, fearlessness, and honesty to really get the program. We must be entirely honest with somebody, if we expect to live happily in this world. We must be hard on ourselves, but always considerate of others. We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character and every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we can look the world in the eyes.” Have I discussed all my defects with another person?

Meditation for the Day

Never yield to weariness of the spirit. At times, the world’s cares and distractions will intrude and the spirit will become weak. At times like this, carry on and soon the spirit will become strong again. God’s spirit is always with you, to replenish and renew. None ever sincerely sought God’s help in vain. Physical weariness and exhaustion make a time of rest and communion with God more necessary. When you are overcome by temporary conditions, which you cannot control, keep quiet and wait for the power of the spirit to flow back.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may not speak or act in the midst of emotional upheaval. I pray that I may wait until the tempest is past. (No impulsive Tweets)

Related:

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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25 AUGUST, 2018, Saturday, 20th Week, Ordinary Time

SPIRITUAL WORLDLINESS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ EZEKIEL 43:1-7;  MATTHEW 23:1-12  ]

In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel was writing to the Israelites in exile to give them hope that they would be restored to their homeland and their former glory.  In their exile, they felt the abandonment of God.  But God was with them, preparing them to return to Jerusalem.  This was the vision of Ezekiel.  “I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east.  A sound came with it, like the sound of the ocean, and the earth shone with his glory. The glory of the Lord arrived at the Temple by the east gate.  The spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; I saw the glory of God fill the Temple.”  This was his vision of the glory of God returning to Israel.   He continued, “And I heard someone speaking to me from the Temple while the man stood beside me.  The voice said, ‘Son of man, this is the dais of my throne, the step on which I rest my feet.  I shall live here among the sons of Israel forever.’”  The Temple remained the dwelling place of God where He lived in their midst.

However, for God to return, the people had to first repent of their sins of idolatry and show the will to restore the Temple to its former glory.  “Now let them put away their idolatry and the corpses of their kings far from me, and I will reside among them forever. As for you, mortal, describe the temple to the house of Israel, and let them measure the pattern; and let them be ashamed of their iniquities.”  (Ezk 43:9f) The period of exile was meant to be a time for them to reflect on their sins and purify themselves so that they would live a life of holiness.  Only such a life can reflect the glory of God.  So too for us.  If we feel the absence of God in our lives, it is because of our sins.  By not living a life of holiness, we deprive the glory of God from shining through us. St Paul wrote, “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Rom 3:23)

Yet, the return of the Jews from exile led to another form of worldliness.  It was the temptation to spiritual worldliness, which Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical “Evangelii Gaudium.” [Spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, consists in seeking not the Lord’s glo­ry but human glory and personal well-being. It is what the Lord reprimanded the Pharisees for: “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (Jn 5:44). It is a sub­tle way of seeking one’s “own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, “it would be infinitely more dis­astrous than any other worldliness which is sim­ply moral”.]  (EG 93)

This was what the Lord is warning us in today’s gospel.  There is a temptation for us to use religiosity and piety to hide the real intention of our hearts, which is to glorify ourselves and for our personal interests.  When we are not sincere in serving the Lord and living a life of holiness, we use religious practices to cover up the wickedness and selfishness in our heart.  This is seen when we seek our glory instead of the glory of God.  The religious leaders of the day were more concerned about seeking their glory than the glory of God. Jesus remarked, “Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.”  Indeed, all of us, priests, religious and lay leaders included, often seek positions of glory and honour.  We put on a good show that we are holy, but are not living a life of holiness.  We participate in religious activities and rituals but our lives are far from what we claim to believe and worship.

Pope Francis gave us concrete examples of how spiritual worldliness is manifested in the Church today.[“This insidious worldliness is evident in a number of attitudes which appear opposed, yet all have the same pretence of “taking over the space of the Church”. In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the con­crete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization. It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of ap­pearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. It can also lead to a business mentality, caught up with management, statistics, plans and evalua­tions whose principal beneficiary is not God’s people but the Church as an institution. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. Evangelical fervour is re­placed by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence.] (EG 95)

The Lord reminds us that in whatever we do, we are to refer people to God, not to us.  We must not be the center of focus, taking away the glory of God.  Unless, our lives lead people to see God and not us, we would have failed in our responsibilities.  Those in positions of authority and influence must not allow their ego to consume them and think that they are the focus for others.  This explains why the Lord said, “You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers.  You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven.  Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ.”  Our task is to help people to be the glory of God by living a life of holiness.   When titles are given to us, we must never forget that we are acting on behalf of God for He is the only Master, Father and Teacher.  We all derive our authority from Him for the service of His people.  We are only ambassadors and servants of the Father.

The Lord said, “The greatest among you must be your servant.  Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”  At the end of the day, it is not about us but about God and His people.  A leader does not focus on himself, his interests and his glory but that of God and the people that he serves.  Therefore, as servants of God, we must be careful that we are not serving our interests.  This can happen when theologians and priests redefine faith and morals according to the standards of the world in order to gain popularity and acceptance. Catholics who would only accept those Catholic teachings they like and reject those that they do not are also self-serving.  Catholics who are afraid to live out their faith because of fear of rejection from society fall into the same category of spiritual worldliness and hypocrisy.  Most of all, we too suffer from spiritual worldliness when we use devotions and church involvement to cover up our need for power and recognition.

Yet, the fact remains that we are weak and sinful.  In truth, we all lack the courage to stand up for what we believe.  In different ways, we live hypocritical lives even when we appear to be good Catholics.  Even religious leaders fail us, not just those in authority.  The Lord has this to advise us when we face hypocritical leaders or those who fail to live up to what they preach.  “The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses.  You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practice what they preach.”  So it remains our constant challenge as leaders to seek authenticity and integrity lest we be accused of being those who “tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them?”  Instead of condemning others for seeking spiritual worldliness, we must look into ourselves and honestly examine those areas in our life where we have failed to live sincerely, with the right motives for what we believe and what we teach.  Let the glory of God shine through us by our lives of humble service.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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A Classic Billy Graham Message: In the World, But Not of It

“Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

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At a meeting of church leaders in Seattle, Washington, one member of the group reportedly said that if the church is to make its greatest impact on our generation, it must become more worldly minded. While in one sense that may bear some truth, in the biblical sense it is false.

As we read the New Testament, it is clear that we are not to become entangled with the world. Now at first glance, a new Christian might shrink from this idea. But the question I want to ask today is, “What is the world?” There are at least three meanings attached to the word world.

First, the Bible says that there is the created world. “God … made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24).

Second, there are the inhabitants of the world, whom God loves and for whom Christ died. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).

Third, there is the cosmos, the world system, which is headed by Satan and based upon self, greed and pride. This is the world that God warns about, and it is this world system and philosophy that Christians are to shun and remain free from.

Clear Signals

The warnings are clear. The Bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world.” The Bible teaches in Galatians 1:4 that, “[Christ] gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age [cosmos].” In other words, the world was such a great danger to our souls that this danger caused Christ, the Son of God, to go to the cross to deliver us from it.

Throughout the Bible, the lines are definitely drawn between the world of unbelievers and the world of the children of God. “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Jesus Himself said, “The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16). Again Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The Bible also teaches that the Christian will face opposition in the world. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” said the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:12. Just as Christ’s life with all its love, concern and selflessness was a rebuke to the cosmos of His time, so our lives with Christ abiding in us today bring about criticism, opposition and persecution from those who cannot comprehend the mystery of God’s redemptive grace.

The Bible teaches that we are not to be discouraged by this belligerence. We are to consider it evidence that we are identified with Christ. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Don’t Be Deceived

In this complex generation in which we live, it is not easy for the Christian to distinguish between that which is spiritual and that which is worldly. In the Bible, Satan is called an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is a great imitator, and it is not always easy to distinguish between Satan’s world and the realm where God reigns. Jesus said that if it were possible, Satan would deceive even the elect (see Matthew 24:24).

This cosmos has its own entertainment and diversions that so permeate the atmosphere that it makes the way of the cross seem antiquated and irrelevant. In much of the entertainment media fostered by the cosmos, the name of God is profaned, sex is glamorized, and high, ethical living and Christian moral standards are laughed at.

Even many Christians are tricked into believing that they cannot enjoy life except as a member of the cosmos crowd. However, the happiest people I know are separated followers of Jesus Christ. They are not dependent upon artificial stimulants. They do not have to abuse their bodies to relax their minds. The Bible says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

Christianity is not a long list of restrictions. It flings open the windows to the real joy of living. The cosmos would have us believe that following Christ is nothing but “thou shalt nots.” The cosmos would have us believe that Christianity is a killjoy, a stolid kind of life, unnatural and abnormal.

But the evidence in the Bible is to the contrary. Christ said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). And those who have been truly converted to Jesus Christ know the meaning of abundant living.

The Bible teaches that worldliness is a force, a spirit, an atmosphere of the cosmos that is in opposition to all that is godly and Christian. Its goal is selfish pleasure, material success and the pride of life. It is ambitious, self-centered. God is not necessarily denied; He is just ignored and forgotten.

No Neutral Ground

The Bible is clear that the world’s inhabitants are either under the influence of this cosmos with its cunning, deception and spell; or they are in Christ and under the direction of the Spirit of God. There is no neutral ground. The lines are drawn by the Bible.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, about the sins “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience … Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:2, 5).

The words course of this world carry the meaning of current or flow. There is an undertow, a subtle current that runs against and in contradiction to the will and the way of God. Its eddies are deep and treacherous. They are stirred and troubled by Satan and intended to trap and ensnare those who would walk godly in Christ Jesus.

Satan employs every device at his command to harass, tempt, thwart and hurt the people of God. His attack is relentless. Paul wrote, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

However, the Christian is not left defenseless in this conflict. God provides the power to give us victory over Satan. Paul said, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

How Do We Win?

We can overcome the onslaught of Satan and the power of this world system of evil by the blood of the Lamb. We will never overcome by mere human effort. We will never overcome by our deeds of righteousness, however commendable they may be. We will never overcome by mere social concern or by identifying ourselves with various social revolutions. The Bible says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).

We are involved in a spiritual conflict. This is a battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan, and we are involved in it. We are asked to choose sides.

The Bible warns us about being taken in by the evil of this cosmos. Satan’s lies are cleverly mixed with truth. When he tempted Christ, he was convincingly logical and even quoted Scripture. So the Bible instructs Christians to make a clean break with all the evils of the world and that we be separated from them. The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore ‘come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Jesus ate with publicans and sinners (Mark 2:16). Nearly everyone He associated with was an outcast. But His relationship with them was not purely social; it was redemptive.

Christians are like the gulf stream, which is in the ocean and yet not part of it. This mysterious current defies the mighty Atlantic, ignores its tides, and flows steadily upon its course. Its color is different, being a deeper blue. Its temperature is different, being warmer. Its direction is different, being from south to north. It is in the ocean, and yet it is not part of it.

So we as Christians are in the world. We come in contact with the world, and yet we retain our distinctive kingdom character and refuse to let the world press us into its mold.

The world is keenly aware of its emptiness, of its unfulfilled dreams, of its failure to cope with life. The world system is inadequate to meet the deeper needs of the human heart. This is ideal soil for implanting the Gospel. God has seen fit to entrust the work of His kingdom to us. If the world system is changed, it will be through our witness.

God Loves You

The primary responsibility of the Christian is to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel—that God loves the world, has redeemed it through the cross of our Savior, and seeks to save it.

Then, after men and women have come to Christ, they go back into the world to live for Christ as a witness to the world; they become salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14), and they have their sociological, political influence upon the world.

We are not to hold the world in contempt. We are to obey its laws. We are to love those for whom Christ died. We are to pray for them, witness to them, and help in all worthwhile social projects that we can. But we are to achieve that most difficult of all tasks, not to be conformed to the world. This is the Christian’s stand; this is the Christian’s job.

https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/february-2016/a-classic-billy-graham-message-in-the-world-but-not-of-it/

Does the Holy Spirit Live in You?

August 22, 2018

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit

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The Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person. The Bible says that He is not something, He is Someone. He is God. There are three Persons in the Trinity–God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is all-powerful. We read in Micah 3:8, “I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord.” The Bible says that God is present everywhere. No matter where we go, He is there. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7). The Holy Spirit can be in both your heart and my heart, even though we may live a thousand miles apart.

The Holy Spirit has all knowledge. The Bible says, “The Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and takes us deeper and deeper into God’s truth as we go along in our Christian life. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, but we can grow only by the help of the Holy Spirit.

The moment that we receive Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts. Our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helps us live the Christian life. There is not a person anywhere who can be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. There is not a person who can follow Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sees everything that goes on. He knows what goes on in our hearts. He knows what goes on in our minds. Nothing is hidden from Him. And in Hebrews 9:14 the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is eternal.

The Spirit is called holy. The Bible says, “Be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). And one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to help make us holy. We ought to be more holy today than we were yesterday. We should always be conforming more to the image of Jesus Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in this growing process.

Conviction of Sin
First, the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit uses a mother’s prayers, a tragic experience, a pastor’s sermon or some other experience to convict us of sin and of our need to turn our lives over to Jesus Christ. He points to us and says, “You are a sinner. You need to repent.” We don’t like to hear that, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without that work we could never have our sins forgiven. We could never be saved. We could never go to Heaven.

New Life
Second, the Holy Spirit gives new life. The Bible says that we are dead in sins and trespasses. Our spirit within us, made in the image of God, is dead toward God. Mankind needs life. All have sinned. Therefore, all are dead toward God. The Holy Spirit gives us new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be born again. And the Holy Spirit is the One who does the work of making you a born-again person. It is a supernatural act.

Paul said to Titus, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Our good works and all the good things that we have done are not going to save us. We are saved by the mercy of God, by the grace of God. It is something I didn’t earn, something I didn’t work for. It is the gift of God, the gift of salvation.

Indwelling Spirit
Third, the Holy Spirit indwells us. Many of you are spiritually dead and are completely immersed in our hedonistic culture. God says, “I will put my Spirit in you. I will come to live in you.” Your body becomes the temple where God dwells by His Holy Spirit.

That is the reason we should never take anything unclean into our bodies. That is the reason we should discipline our bodies. God loves your body. He doesn’t want it polluted by fleshly lusts and the things to which you give yourself. The Bible says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Power to Serve Christ
Fourth, the Holy Spirit gives you power to serve Christ. “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8). I couldn’t do the work I am doing without the power of the Holy Spirit. I am a communicator of God’s message. He called me and gave me that gift. What counts is the message that–according to Scripture–Christ died for our sins, He rose again, He is coming back again and He is ready to come into your heart by the Holy Spirit and make you a new person. That is the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). There are people whom you may not be able to love easily. But the Holy Spirit will give you the power to love them. Love is the greatest evidence that you know Christ. The Holy Spirit can love through you.

There are times I feel that I don’t have joy, and I get on my knees and say, “Lord, where is the fruit of joy in my life?” I find that the joy is there, down deep. It is a deep river. Whatever the circumstances, there is a river of joy.

The peace that passes understanding comes from the Holy Spirit. Whatever the circumstances, I have peace in my heart. I know where I am going, I know where I have been. And I know why I am here–by the Holy Spirit.

Do you know Christ? The Holy Spirit comes to magnify, to glorify and to exalt the Son. Jesus said the Holy Spirit shall not speak of Himself. He comes to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to glorify Jesus Christ (John 16:13-14). And the Holy Spirit is pleased when you glorify Christ in your life.

It is the Holy Spirit who draws you to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts you of your need of Christ. There is only one way of salvation, and that is Christ. It is a dangerous thing to resist the Spirit. “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:28–29).

I am asking you to give in to the call of the Holy Spirit. I am asking you to say, “I want Christ in my life, to be my Lord and my Savior.” I know thousands of churchgoers who need to come to Christ, led by the Holy Spirit. You need to say, “I want Christ in my heart.” Say, “I want to know I am going to Heaven. I want my sins forgiven. I want to start a new life.”

By    •   April 30, 2009

https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/may-2009/does-the-holy-spirit-live-in-you/

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Catholics often encounter the Holy Spirit and we may, from time to time, find people truly able to carry the gift of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Fr. Edward Leen’s book “Holy Spirit” is a great read for any Christian. Leen believes that the Holy Spirit lives inside each of us in a phenomena known as the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Believers say this indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes for the “Sanctity of Human Life” in each of us. And how do we make the most of this most precious gift? We live within God’s Law (The Commandments), and we seek to do the Will of God.

Matthew Kelly tells us in “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” to pray and meditate, to study and stay true to the scriptures, to pour ourselves out in loving service to others and to evangelize to have a spectacular God-centered life!

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“Twelve-step programs teache, of course, twelve steps. Matthew Kelly suggests we can boil those down to just Four Signs of a Dynamic Christian/Catholic.”

Why is the Bible so offensive?

August 18, 2018

Would you believe it if I told you the mere sight of the Bible is offensive to some people?

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Floyd Richardson holds his bible during a service for the National Day of Prayer in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. on May 4, 2017. (Nick Tomecek / Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

Would you believe it if I told you the mere sight of the Bible is offensive to some people?

This week, my church is holding its SoCal Harvest event for the 29th year in a row. Formerly known as Harvest Crusade, this annual gathering is one of the largest evangelical outreach events in the world. As many as 100,000 people will fill Angel Stadium this evening and the following two days, and a good portion of them will find hope, purpose and meaning for their lives.

Some people are pretty upset about SoCal Harvest. Not because of anything I just mentioned, but because, in a series of billboards we use to promote the event, there’s a photo of me holding a Bible.

A real estate company that owns one of the most popular malls in Southern California said it received multiple complaints from people who found the image of the Bible offensive, and at least one “serious threat.” The Bible disturbed people so much that one local business felt forced to remove the ads completely.

It’s often said that a Bible that is falling apart is an indication of a life that isn’t. What’s offensive about that?

Apparently, in our intolerant culture, we no longer can display the Bible in public.

The art in question was a tribute to my hero and mentor, the late Rev. Billy Graham, who often lifted the Bible high over his head as he preached to stadiums full of people. We hold the Bible high, just like Billy did, because it has changed our lives. The same is true for millions of other people; and it has been true for centuries.

Harvard, Yale and a number of the other original nine colonial colleges in America were established by people who believed in the Bible. The Salvation Army, which has helped countless vulnerable people, was started by a man who believed in the Bible and lived accordingly. The abolitionist movement was led by men and women who believed the words in the Bible and took them to heart. And let’s not forget Martin Luther King Jr., whose celebrated speeches, which in many ways were really sermons, are now enshrined in our collective consciousness.

And yet, here we are, having to tiptoe around some who find it offensive.

Most of us know that the Bible is a powerful book. When we swear people into office or take their testimony in a court of law, we often ask them put one hand on the Bible. When a couple is married, a child is born or a loved one passes, many of us write their names in family Bibles.

We can find Bibles in nearly every hotel room in America, and most Americans have at least one Bible in their home. In fact, 80% of Americans, including 71% of college graduates, believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.

At the same time, there is a significant disconnect. Half of those who claim to read the Bible aren’t able to name the four Gospels in the New Testament. (The names are not John, Paul, George and Ringo.) SoCal Harvest exists in large part to help bridge this disconnect for as many people as possible.

We believe the Bible is God’s love letter to humanity. It’s for people who do not want to be controlled by their passions; people who do not want so much pain in life; and people who want better relationships with others. The Bible is for people who want to know the purpose of this life and enter Heaven in the next one.

As a 17-year-old kid searching for meaning and strung out on drugs, I heard the words in the Bible and began a transformation that changed the course of my life. Forty years later, when my son Christopher died suddenly in a car crash at the age of 33, the Bible became much more than a book to me. It was my lifeline.

It’s often said that a Bible that is falling apart is an indication of a life that isn’t. What’s offensive about that?

Pastor Greg Laurie is the senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. He is the author of more than 70 books, the host of the national radio broadcast “A New Beginning” and the founder of Harvest Crusades.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-laurie-socal-harvest-bible-ads-20180817-story.html

Related:

Trump at CPAC Talks Guns, Trade, North Korea, Tax Cut, Regulations, Billy Graham, MS-13, Supreme Court, Jobs, U.S. Economy, American Values, Immigration

February 23, 2018

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Trump at CPAC: Armed teacher ‘would have shot the hell out of’ Florida gunman

Politico

Updated 

President Donald Trump reiterated his call for more teachers and education officials to be armed in the wake of the deadly Florida shooting on Friday, arguing at an annual conservative political summit that “a teacher would have shot the hell out of” the gunman if the school permitted concealed carry.

Fresh off of meetings with state, local and education officials, as well as students from the Parkland school where 17 people were killed last week, the president expressed support for popular measures aimed at curbing gun violence, including strengthening background checks and improving mental health screening. But Trump also made the case for one of his most controversial proposals on guns during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones it just puts our students in more danger, far more danger – well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches should be able to carry concealed firearms,” Trump said.

The president argued that “well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches” and other officials ought to be allowed to carry concealed firearms. “You do a concealed carry permit,” he said.

Trump decried the inaction of a local sheriff’s deputy, who resigned Thursday after surveillance footage revealed he failed to intervene during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School despite being the only armed official on-hand when the massacre began.

If concealed carry had been allowed at the school, the president argued, officials could have prevented casualties.

“A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,” Trump said.

During a White House listening sessions on Wednesday with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, among others, Trump said some school officials should be armed to cut back on deaths during mass shooting.

“We should do what works,” Trump said of the push for school safety. “This includes commonsense measures that will protect the rights of law-abiding Americans while helping to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and to others.”

In his address, the president paid homage to Billy Graham, the prominent American pastor and longtime presidential adviser who passed away this week at 99.

“We will never forget the historic crowds, the voice, the energy, and the profound faith of a preacher named Billy Graham,” Trump said.

Gallup Poll: Obama Takes Title of ‘Most Admired Man’ for 10th Year in a Row

December 28, 2017

Breitbart

Former President Barack Obama took the title of “most admired man” for the tenth consecutive year, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

The Gallup poll, which has been conducted every year since 1946, asked respondents to name their top two picks for most admired man and woman.

Obama took the top spot with 17 percent of the vote, while 14 percent of respondents voted for President Donald Trump to take the runner-up slot.

Pope Francis followed with three percent of the vote, and Rev. Billy Graham came in fourth with two percent of the vote.

Both Trump and Pope Francis have made the list before, although they have yet to take the top slot in the poll.

The poll also mentioned other political, business, and religious leaders, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

For the ladies, Hillary Clinton topped the list for “most admired woman” — a title she has held onto for the past 15 years.

However, Gallup notes that she may not hold onto this title in future years because her polling numbers were at their lowest in 15 years and are unlikely to improve as her political career is “likely over.”

“She managed to win this year because she remains arguably more prominent than other contenders,” Gallup said. “However, retaining that stature may be more challenging in coming years with her political career likely over.”

Former first lady Michelle Obama took the runner-up slot, with seven percent of the vote, while Oprah Winfrey took third place with four percent.

Gallup surveyed 1,049 adults from December 4–11 with a four percent margin of error.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/27/gallup-poll-obama-takes-title-admired-man-10th-year-row/

Have Christians lost the culture war?

February 23, 2014

By

The culture war may be lost and religious liberty might not be that far behind, according to a new survey from LifeWay Research, the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Seventy percent of senior pastors at Protestant churches say religious liberty is on the decline in the United States, and 59 percent of Christians believe they are losing the culture war. Eleven percent considers that war already lost.

The survey results are staggering – indicating grave concerns about the moral direction of the nation from both the pulpit and the pew.

“Ten years ago we were talking about who would win the culture war, and now we’re talking about how will Christian rights be protected after the culture war,” Ed Stetzer, the president of LifeWay Research, told me. “We’ve lost our home field advantage. There are going to be some things that are different.”

Stetzer said it’s a big shift, “and it’s a shift I would not have guessed.”

Over the past few years, I’ve documented hundreds of instances of religious persecution in the United States. And the targets have been exclusively Christians.

The military labeled evangelical Christians and Catholics as religious extremists. Christian organizations like Family Research Council and American Family Association were labeled by the military as domestic hate groups. Bibles were briefly banned from Walter Reed Medical Center.

The Internal Revenue Service targeted Christian ministries engaged in pro-life activities. The government demanded to know the content of one group’s prayers. A Wyoming church was ordered by government officials to turn over their membership roles. A Baptist newspaper in North Carolina was audited – as was America’s evangelist, Billy Graham.

The list of attacks on Christians goes on and on – from students ordered to stop praying in front of the Supreme Court to chaplains being told they could no longer pray in the name of Jesus.

In recent days, the battleground has pitted gay rights groups against Christian-owned businesses that cater to the wedding industry. Christian bakers, florists and photographers have been hauled into court and brought up on state discrimination charges for declining to participate in same-sex weddings.

And in every single instance, lower courts have ruled that gay rights trump religious rights.

Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, said the concern is widespread.

“Half of Americans say that religious liberty is on the decline,” he said. “That’s a lot of people.”

Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, conceded that Christians are losing the culture war and they are losing ground every day.

“The primary reason Christians are losing the culture wars is that pastors are AWOL when it comes to informing and energizing their congregations,” Jeffress told me.

Unless Christians stand up and engage the political process, Jeffress said he fears there may come a day when religious liberty is extremely curtailed.

“A religious leader once said, ‘My successor will see the tax-exempt status removed from churches and his successor will go to jail,’” Jeffress said. “That is probably on the horizon.”

But there are some pockets of resistance – like the town of Greenwood in the Mississippi Delta.

Jim Phillips is the senior pastor of North Greenwood Baptist Church. He told me that Greenwood still has a “very high respect for the historical Judeo-Christian ethic.”

“Every one of my son’s community college football games around the state last season began with a prayer on the loudspeaker – in Jesus’ name,” he told me. “Will that eventually be challenged? I suspect so at some point.”

But right now, he said, “Pockets of religious boldness still exist.”

Phillips said national trends, though, are disturbing.

“Christians have slowly given away their impact on culture by becoming more and more worldly instead of confronting the culture to become more and more godly,” he said.

So who is to blame for the loss?

Phillips blames Christians.

“Sadly, Christians have often wimped out and grown silent instead of being bolder for the Gospel,” he said. “Christians get subdued into thinking they’re not supposed to rise up.”

Jeffress agreed with that assessment and said the church must involve itself in the political process.

“There are 50 to 80 million evangelicals in America,” he said. “Only half are registered to vote and only half of those voted in the last election.”

Jeffress said it’s imperative for people of faith to engage the culture.

“Every time we go to the voting booth we are casting a vote for righteousness or unrighteousness,” he said.

Pastor Phillips also urged his fellow pastors to step up to the plate.

“My calling is to keep leading the charge,” he said. “As a local pastor, my goal is to keep encouraging my church to seek to raise the bar and not lower it when it comes to confronting culture.”

Stetzer said he hopes the survey will spark a “fruitful national conversation about religious liberty concerns.”

“The perception was that the culture war was once a winnable war,” Stetzer said. “But it’s switched from an offensive battle to a defensive battle.”

Pastor Jeffress urged Christians to stand their ground.

“We ought to do everything we can to push back against this encroachment on religious liberty and protect our right to spread the Gospel,” he said.

I write about this very issue in my new book, “God Less America,” which will be published in May.

But I’m reminded of a quote by President Ronald Reagan:

“If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

A few years ago, a New York public school teacher was ordered to remove that quote from her classroom wall. She was told that it violated the U.S. Constitution.

I’m afraid we may be “gone under.”

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is “God Less America”.

Billy Graham at 95: Still Preaching the Gospel, Still Concerned About the Heart and Soul of America

November 7, 2013
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Rev. Billy Graham (AP)

Billy Graham turns 95 on November 7. Happy Birthday!

By Kelly Wright

While age and health restricts his mobility, Graham is still doing what he’s always done since 1949, he’s preaching the Gospel.

For more than 60 years, the country preacher from humble beginnings in North Carolina has become a global evangelist and statesman for God.

In the twilight of his life, Graham is doing what he has consistently done, living out loud with his faith and boldly sharing his love for God and for people.

 

In that role, he has prayed personally with presidents, kings, queens, world leaders, celebrities and filled stadiums with common folk eager to hear his inspiring message. He is celebrating his birthday with a national outreach called “My Hope America.”

It is a program that examines the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the personal lives of people from all walks of life.

To date, more than 24,000 churches have embraced Graham’s vision. Like the Disciples of Jesus Christ who started the early church during the 2nd Century, people in our modern era will open their homes to share the gospel through Graham’s video message for anyone who will listen.

So why is a 95-year-old man doing this?

It’s because Graham is concerned about the heart and soul of America. He believes the nation is losing its grip on moral clarity. Americans are increasingly losing focus on God and losing a grip on faith and hope.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association finds that in a typical American community our neighbors are dealing with unemployment, depression, fear and anxiety, substance abuse and no belief or relationship with God.

Graham finds that troubling.

“This is why I believe My Hope America is crucial. It could be our last chance to see our country turn back to God,” says Graham.

All of us fall short in embracing God’s plan for our lives. Some of us don’t care because we don’t believe. Some claim religion is a nuisance, a wedge issue that taints politics, causes wars, and creates division.

Billy Graham contends his message goes beyond religion. For him it’s about a personal relationship that he has with Jesus Christ.

“The hour is late, and the need is urgent. The eternal destiny of many souls—and the future of our great nation—are at stake. Pray that we will turn from our wicked ways and that God will heal our land,” Graham adds.

At the age of 95, Billy Graham may be involved in his last public evangelistic mission. Some may scoff or laugh at him, others are too young to recall his impact on the world as “America’s Pastor,” and some may ridicule him or even verbally attack him as an old man who needs to just quietly fade away.

But in the twilight of his life, Graham is doing what he has consistently done, living out loud with his faith and boldly sharing his love for God and for people.

“Everywhere I go I find that people … both leaders and individuals … are asking one basic question, is there any hope for the future?’ My answer is the same, ‘Yes, through Jesus Christ.’”

Kelly Wright is a general assignment reporter for Fox News Channel, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau. He is also a co-host on “America’s News Headquarters” on Saturdays (1:00-2:00 PM/ET). Wright previously served as a co-host on “Fox & Friends Weekend.” Wright is also an ordained minister and Gospel singer. Most recently, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Sponsors at Morehouse College for his Fox News “Beyond the Dream” series. He is the author of “America’s Hope in Troubled Times.”

Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues

November 11, 2012

Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

By Laurie Goodstein
The New York Times

They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

It is not as though they did not put up a fight; they went all out as never before: The Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Roman Catholic bishops denounced President Obama’s policies as a threat to life, religious liberty and the traditional nuclear family. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before.

“Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. “It’s not that our message — we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong — didn’t get out. It did get out.

“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”

Conservative Christian leaders said that they would intensify their efforts to make their case, but were just beginning to discuss how to proceed. “We’re not going away, we just need to recalibrate,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive of The Family Leader, an evangelical organization in Iowa.

The election results are just one indication of larger trends in American religion that Christian conservatives are still digesting, political analysts say. Americans who have no religious affiliation — pollsters call them the “nones” — are now about one-fifth of the population over all, according to a study released last month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The younger generation is even less religious: about one-third of Americans ages 18 to 22 say they are either atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular. Americans who are secular are far more likely to vote for liberal candidates and for same-sex marriage. Seventy percent of those who said they had no religion voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research.

“This election signaled the last where a white Christian strategy is workable,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization based in Washington.

“Barack Obama’s coalition was less than 4 in 10 white Christian,” Dr. Jones said. “He made up for that with not only overwhelming support from the African-American and Latino community, but also with the support of the religiously unaffiliated.”

In interviews, conservative Christian leaders pointed to other factors that may have blunted their impact in this election: they were outspent by gay rights advocates in the states where marriage was on the ballot; comments on rape by the Senate candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard E. Mourdock in Indiana were ridiculed nationwide and alienated women; and they never trusted Mr. Romney as a reliably conservative voice on social issues.

However, they acknowledge that they are losing ground. The evangelical share of the population is both declining and graying, studies show. Large churches like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God, which have provided an organizing base for the Christian right, are losing members.

“In the long run, this means that the Republican constituency is going to be shrinking on the religious end as well as the ethnic end,” said James L. Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

Meanwhile, religious liberals are gradually becoming more visible. Liberal clergy members spoke out in support of same-sex marriage, and one group ran ads praising Mr. Obama’s health care plan for insuring the poor and the sick. In a development that highlighted the diversity within the Catholic Church, the “Nuns on the Bus” drove through the Midwest warning that the budget proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would cut the social safety net.

For the Christian right in this election, fervor and turnout were not the problem, many organizers said in interviews. White evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate — 3 percent more than in 2004, when they helped to propel President George W. Bush to re-election. During the Republican primaries, some commentators said that Mr. Romney’s Mormon faith would drive away evangelicals, many of whom consider his church a heretical cult.

And yet, in the end, evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Romney — even matching the presidential vote of Mormons: 78 percent for Mr. Romney and 21 percent for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls by Edison Research.

“We did our job,” said Mr. Reed, who helped pioneer religious voter mobilization with the Christian Coalition in the 1980s and ’90s, and is now founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He said that his organization outdid itself this year, putting out 30 million voter guides in 117,000 churches, 24 million mailings to voters in battleground states and 26 million phone calls.

“Those voters turned out, and they voted overwhelmingly against Obama,” Mr. Reed said. “But you can’t be driving in the front of the boat and leaking in the back of the boat, and win the election.

“You can’t just overperform among voters of faith,” he continued. “There’s got to be a strategy for younger voters, unmarried voters, women voters — especially single women — and minorities.”

The Christian right should have a natural inroad with Hispanics. The vast majority of Hispanics are evangelical or Catholic, and many of those are religious conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion. And yet, the pressing issue of immigrationtrumped religion, and Mr. Obama won the Hispanic vote by 44 percentage points.

“Latino Protestants were almost as inclined to vote for Mr. Obama as their Catholic brethren were,” said Dr. Guth, at Furman, “and that’s certainly a big change, and going the wrong direction as far as Republicans are concerned.”

The election outcome was also sobering news for Catholic bishops, who this year spoke out on politics more forcefully and more explicitly than ever before, some experts said. The bishops and Catholic conservative groups helped lead the fight against same-sex marriage in the four states where that issue was on the ballot. Nationwide, they undertook a campaign that accused Mr. Obama of undermining religious liberty, redoubling their efforts when a provision in the health care overhaul required most employers to provide coverage for contraception.

Despite this, Mr. Obama retained the Catholic vote, 50 to 48 percent, according to exit polls, although his support slipped from four years ago. Also, solid majorities of Catholics supported same-sex marriage, said Dr. Jones, the pollster.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who serves on the bishops’ domestic policy committee, said that the bishops spoke out on many issues, including immigration and poverty, but got news media attention only when they talked about abortion, same-sex marriage and religious liberty. Voters who identify as Catholic but do not attend Mass on Sunday may not have been listening, he said, but Catholics who attend Mass probably “weigh what the church has to say.”

“I think good Catholics can be found across the political spectrum,” Bishop Soto said, “but I do think they wrestle with what the church teaches.”