Tag Archives: Denison Forum

Denison Forum – President to announce $8 billion for border wall

News broke yesterday afternoon that President Trump will sign a border security compromise package that averts another government shutdown. However, this package does not include all the funds Mr. Trump has requested for continued construction of a barrier along our southern border.

ABC News reports that the president plans to announce today his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from congressional allocations, executive action, and an emergency declaration.

As a nonpartisan ministry, my purpose is not to offer a personal opinion on the political issues involved here. Nor is it to focus on the border wall itself, a subject I addressed recently.

Rather, my goal today is to consider the divisive response to these developments.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: “The president is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”

Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer responded: “Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of the power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall.”

Being Baptist and working for IBM

There are clearly significant debates dividing Americans today. Many of us are fundamentally opposed on foundational issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia.

Continue reading Denison Forum – President to announce $8 billion for border wall

Denison Forum – How to get a marriage license at baggage claim

If you’re planning to get married today in Las Vegas, you can apply for your marriage license here, then pick it up at the baggage claim area at the airport. Alternately, if you or your travel partner is named “Valentine,” you can get free air travel to Iceland today.

A “Smooches from Pooches” kissing boooth is waiting for you at Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina. Master violinist Patrick Contreras will serenade you at Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California. If you forgot to get a Valentine’s Day card for your loved one, you might head to Chicago Midway Airport, where they’re distributing free cards today.

“Love others like God loves them.”

As Janet Denison noted in her blog, the history and legends surrounding Valentine’s Day remind us that today is “a perfect holiday to allow God to use you as a witness to his perfect love. Love God with everything in you. Love others like God loves them. Let people know you are a Christian this Valentine’s Day by sharing God’s perfect love with them.”

God’s word repeatedly calls us to love as we are loved:

  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34; cf. John 15:12).
  • “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
  • “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10).
  • “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly” (1 Peter 4:8).

Continue reading Denison Forum – How to get a marriage license at baggage claim

Denison Forum – Why was a newborn baby in a storm drain?

The good news: A newborn baby was pulled from a storm drain in South Africa on Monday. Emergency responders heard a baby crying from deep inside the concrete structure. After working four hours to dig up the area and chisel into the drain, they were able to rescue the baby.

The bad news: according to the Associated Press, paramedics say “it is unclear why the baby was ‘dumped’ and . . . police are investigating.”

The good news: Smithsonian Magazine reports that “Southern California will soon see another booming superbloom.” If rains continue, the desert landscape will come alive with blossoming wild poppies, verbena, lilies, primroses, prickly pear, and dozens of other species of ephemeral native spring wildflowers. Rare species that only bloom every few years or decades may appear.

The bad news: the “superbloom” will result from recent, massive wildfires that created the heat and smoke necessary for the flowers to germinate.

The good news: tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a wonderful day of celebration with those we love.

The bad news: tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a difficult day of grief for those who have lost someone they love.

A day I’ll never forget

This week, we’ve been discussing the painful issue of innocent suffering. From clergy abuse scandals to natural disasters and diseases, such suffering makes the news every day. Judging by the response of our readers, this is an issue that resonates deeply with us all.

On Monday, we prayed for victims of clergy sexual abuse. Yesterday, we focused on ways God can redeem our suffering as we trust him in hard places.

Today, I’d like us to consider one of the most significant yet overlooked ways our Lord helps those who hurt.

When my father died ten days before Christmas during my senior year of college, a friend from school drove across town the next day and spent the day with me. He didn’t offer advice or theological wisdom. He was just there. I’ll never forget his presence.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why was a newborn baby in a storm drain?

Denison Forum – Victims of innocent suffering: Biblical help and hope

Stories about innocent suffering make the news daily.

Five watercolor paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler failed to sell at auction last weekend, reminding us that the Nazi dictator was a failed artist before inciting the deaths of six million Jews and twelve million other victims in World War II.

Nearly one hundred children have died in Africa from the second-deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history. More than eight hundred people have reported symptoms.

And the appalling report about clergy sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention continues to make news today.

Tragically, no organization is immune to such abuse. The Roman Catholic Church continues to respond to reports of clergy abuse over the last several years. Sexual abuse scandals have rocked the Presbyterian Church USA, the Boy Scouts, gymnastics, swimming, hockey, college football, and political leaders as well.

A study found that nearly five hundred schoolteachers were arrested in 2015 on sexual abuse charges. Shockingly, about 10 percent of children in eighth through eleventh grades were found to have been subjected to some form of sexual abuse by an adult at school (most often a teacher or coach).

Where is God when such tragedies occur?

“Why have you forgotten me?”

Job 9 poignantly describes the pain innocent victims feel when God seems to fail them.

Job pictures the omnipotence of the One “who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea . . . who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number” (vv. 8, 10).

But this omnipotent God seems impervious to Job’s cries for help: “If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause” (vv. 16-17). In fact, according to Job, “When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent” (v. 23).

Continue reading Denison Forum – Victims of innocent suffering: Biblical help and hope

Denison Forum – What do racism, sexual abuse, and abortion have in common?

Virginia continues to deal with scandals engulfing its top three leaders.

Gov. Ralph Northam is facing renewed calls to resign today over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook. Attorney General Mark Herring has admitted that he wore blackface at a college party in 1980.

And a college professor, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, is accusing Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexually assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. He denies the allegation.

Meanwhile, Gucci has apologized for marketing a sweater that appears to mimic blackface. It looks like a black turtleneck that is worn over the nose, with a red-lined cutout for the mouth. After a public outcry, Gucci removed the product.

In other news, President Trump spoke yesterday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The president stated, “We must build a culture that cherishes dignity and sanctity of innocent human life.” He added: “All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God. Every life is sacred, and every soul is a precious gift from heaven.”

What do these stories have in common?

“An affront to human dignity”

Russell Moore is an ethicist and president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In a very perceptive article on the Ralph Northam scandal, Dr. Moore notes that both racism and abortion “are rooted in the counter-Christ idolatry that sees human dignity and lives worth living defined by power.” He states that “abortion and racial injustice are alike an affront to human dignity, and to the image of God.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – What do racism, sexual abuse, and abortion have in common?

Denison Forum – How much does Donald Trump’s childhood home cost?

Here’s the most objective story about Donald Trump I could find in today’s news: his childhood home in Queens, New York, is on the market. For $2.9 million, you can purchase the house where Mr. Trump lived until he was four years old. It comes with a life-size cardboard cutout of the president.

It’s hard to open a news feed without finding polarizing stories about the president. Watching reactions to his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, you would think that two separate nations inhabit the same country.

But we’ve been here before.

“A repulsive pedant”

George Washington was the only president ever elected unanimously by the Electoral College. Anyone who believes our politics are polarized beyond repair has not studied the election of 1800. (A Thomas Jefferson surrogate called John Adams a “repulsive pedant,” while an Adams surrogate warned that electing Jefferson would create a nation where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”)

The founders knew that complex issues would require complex solutions that can be achieved only through sometimes-contentious debate, compromise, and perseverance. That’s why they created a federal structure with three branches and a complicated system of checks and balances.

Reflecting the diversity of the new nation, political leaders soon formed the first two political parties. And a two-party system has basically dominated our political process ever since.

Whose nomination took 103 ballots?

There is no question that America’s two parties are intensely opposed to each other today. According to Pew Research Center, 45 percent of Republicans consider the Democratic Party “a threat to the nation’s well-being”; 41 percent of Democrats view the Republican Party the same way.

Continue reading Denison Forum – How much does Donald Trump’s childhood home cost?

Denison Forum – The ‘State of the Union’ is divided: How should Christians respond?

President Trump delivered the 2019 State of the Union address last night before a joint session of the 116th Congress. I watched the address, then surveyed coverage of it this morning. It is as if there were two different speeches delivered.

The Blaze headlines: “An astounding number of viewers approved of Trump’s State of the Union speech–here are the results.” A Fox columnist claims that “once again, America saw that Trump on the stump is very, very good.”

By contrast, the Washington Post is carrying a column titled “More Trump fantasyland as the world fries.” CNN has an article titled “Critics laugh off Trump’s mispronunciations once again.” Van Jones claimed that the speech was “psychotically incoherent.”

None of this should surprise us.

Who is neutral about the president?

The New Yorker interviewed a Georgetown University scholar this week who called President Trump “an amateur in the White House” and claimed that he “looks hideously weak.” By contrast, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders recently called Mr. Trump “the most productive President in modern history” and claimed, “It’s indisputable that our country has never been stronger than it is today under the leadership of President Trump.”

It seems difficult to find someone who is neutral about the president. The latest poll shows that 39.9 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing, while 55.6 percent disapprove. Only 4.5 percent are undecided.

Our divisions over the president reflect a growing partisan divide in our country. Pew Research Center asked more than five thousand people about several specific political issues and found that, on average, there was a thirty-six-point gap between Republicans and Democrats. This is up twenty-one points since Pew began tracking these questions twenty-three years earlier.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The ‘State of the Union’ is divided: How should Christians respond?

Denison Forum – Two responses to the Ralph Northam controversy

Ralph Northam served eight years as a United States Army medical officer, then became a pediatric neurologist. He served in Virginia’s state Senate and as lieutenant governor before becoming governor earlier this year.

On January 30, the governor voiced his support for legislation that would allow abortion until the point of birth. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) spoke for many when he responded: “In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide.’”

Then came the yearbook controversy. On February 1, images from Northam’s medical school yearbook were published. On his page in the yearbook, they picture an unidentified person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood.

After admitting that he was one of the figures in the photo and apologizing, Northam later denied that he was in the picture. However, he admitted to wearing blackface for a Michael Jackson dance contest around the same time the photo was taken.

Pressure to resign has been escalating since the yearbook picture was published.

“Seize the opportunity”

Harvard’s James Herron perceptively defines racism as “a lens through which people interpret, naturalize, and reproduce inequality.” Since 64 percent of Americans say racism remains a major problem in this country, we should not be surprised that such prejudice makes the news daily.

One response is African American History Month, which is observed each February. Its purpose is to “[pay] tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – Two responses to the Ralph Northam controversy

Denison Forum – Why the Rams’ Super Bowl loss matters today

As everyone who doesn’t live on Mars must know, the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl LIII yesterday.

The game set eighteen records: It was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in history. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are now the oldest starting quarterback and head coach to win a Super Bowl. It featured the longest punt ever (though the ball rolled much of the way), the fewest touchdowns, and the fewest kickoff returns.

Critics are condemning the Rams and their quarterback today, but they did make it to the game’s biggest stage (albeit after a blown call against the Saints). However, the NFL gives out no trophies for second place.

Legendary driver Dale Earnhardt spoke for our culture: “Second place is just the first place loser.”

Do you remember who lost the Super Bowl last year? The Patriots. Two years ago? The Falcons. The year before? The Panthers. (I had to look it up.)

“A first-grader could have painted that”

In our culture, you’re a winner if you win and a loser if you lose. That’s because a secular culture, by definition, cannot consider spiritual truth. It can see only what it can see. A materialistic society measures success by materialistic means.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why the Rams’ Super Bowl loss matters today

Denison Forum – Why the Super Bowl and secular spirituality are so popular

When Tom Brady played in his first Super Bowl, there was no iPhone or Android. No Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, or Gmail. No Uber, Airbnb, or iTunes Store.

Jared Goff, the quarterback who will oppose Brady in this Sunday’s game, doesn’t remember watching Brady win his first Super Bowl. Goff can be forgiven–he was seven years old at the time.

If the Rams win, Sean McVay will become the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. If the Patriots win, Bill Belichick will become the oldest.

It’s likely that more than one hundred million people will watch Sunday’s game. Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in the US, tripling the highest-rated non-football program.

Why is secular spirituality so popular?

The Super Bowl was a metaphor for another very popular activity in the US.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they believe in some kind of deity or spiritual force. However, more than a quarter of Americans say they are spiritual but not religious. Their number has grown by 42 percent in the last six years. While nine in ten Americans claim to be spiritual, religious, or both, less than 20 percent regularly attend church services.

Clearly, spirituality is popular in America. Religion, less so.

Why the difference? Let’s examine the Super Bowl for insights into secular spirituality today.

Why is the Super Bowl so popular?

Continue reading Denison Forum – Why the Super Bowl and secular spirituality are so popular

Denison Forum – The polar vortex, seven-foot pythons, and divine sovereignty

Last week, a snake catcher in Australia removed a seven-foot python that had slithered through an open door and climbed into the shower. In another Australian home, a woman found a python in her toilet bowl.

The reason for such serpentine domestication: It’s hot in Australia. Record-setting hot. Temperatures hit 117 in Sydney recently, the hottest it has been since 1939. Reptiles are looking for shade and water like everyone else.

Meanwhile, it’s record-setting cold in the northern US. Chicago had a wind chill of negative fifty-two degrees yesterday morning. Nearly ninety million people are likely to experience temperatures at zero or below.

People in Minnesota could get frostbite after five minutes outside. Beer can’t be delivered in some parts of the Midwest because it would freeze before arriving. As I write this Daily Article, the temperature in Madison, Wisconsin, is minus twenty-six degrees.

We can’t have it both ways

Much about today’s news leaves us feeling powerless.

The death toll from the Brazilian dam collapse has risen to ninety-nine, with another 259 missing and feared dead. A gardener in Toronto has pled guilty to killing eight men, some of whom he buried in planters. Floods in Saudi Arabia have killed at least twelve people.

If we believe in an all-powerful God–or even if we don’t–we wonder why he allows so much suffering in his creation. If a car had as many problems as our planet, we’d hold the manufacturer responsible.

Continue reading Denison Forum – The polar vortex, seven-foot pythons, and divine sovereignty

Denison Forum – Have Israeli scientists found a cure for cancer?

My mother died of cancer, as did my wife’s father. Our older son survived cancer only through surgery and intensive radiation. Since cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the world, chances are good that you have been touched personally by this terrible disease as well.

Now comes an astounding announcement from a team of Israeli scientists: They might have discovered the first true cure for cancer. One of them told the Jerusalem Post, “We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer.” He added, “Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market.”

The scientists describe their discovery as a kind of cancer antibiotic. It uses a combination of compounds called “peptides” that kill cancer cells in a way that is unaffected by mutations. Their treatment attacks cancer stem cells and targets cancer cells so specifically that side effects are minimized. It can also be tailored to the specific cancer it is fighting.

The company will soon begin clinical trials that could be completed within a few years and would make the treatment available for specific cases.

As a medical officer with the American Cancer Society notes, it is far too soon to know if this revolutionary treatment is the cure its developers hope it will be. But imagine for a moment that it is. If you created such a drug, wouldn’t you want to give it to the world? Wouldn’t cancer patients everywhere want to try it?

The best possible news

“Gospel” translates the Greek word euangelion, meaning “good news.” Jesus began his public ministry by calling people to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

The Christian “gospel” is the best possible news: You can be saved from an eternity in hell for an eternity in heaven as the transformed child of your Father. The God who made you loves you so much he considers your eternal life worth the death of his Son. If you will repent of your sins and believe in this good news, asking Jesus to forgive your sins and make you the child of God, he will always answer your prayer.

Everyone needs to hear this good news. Everyone deserves to hear it.

But there’s a catch.

“Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

As Jesus was traveling toward Jerusalem and the cross, he came upon “two blind men sitting by the roadside” (Matthew 20:30a). When they heard that Jesus was coming, they cried out to him, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” (v. 30b). The crowd rebuked them, but they repeated their cry to Jesus (v. 31).

Our Lord stopped and asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” (v. 32).

They replied, “Lord, let our eyes be opened” (v. 33).

And “Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him” (v. 34).

Lost people are as blind spiritually as these men were physically: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). But unlike these men, most lost people don’t know that they are lost.

Growing up in a family that never attended church, this was my story. I assumed that if there is a God, my “good” life would be good enough to get me into his heaven. I had no idea I was destined for hell and would have been offended if you told me so.

This is why so many Americans are lost in a country where the gospel is so accessible. If they understood their peril, they would change. This is part of the enemy’s deception.

Four steps to spiritual sight

Spiritual blindness is a good metaphor for our culture. We are all born with such blindness. But like the men on the road to Jerusalem, some of us meet the Great Physician and our eyes are healed. Now it’s our job to “pay it forward,” helping those who are blind meet the One who can do for them what he did for us.

But if a blind man won’t admit that he’s blind, he’s likely to resist and reject our message in the belief that he doesn’t need what we are offering and that we are trying to impose ourselves on him. This is inevitable and logical. We feel the same way when Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on our door.

What would cause such a blind person to welcome our help? Consider four steps.

First: Build a relationship with him so that he knows we care genuinely for him. We must earn the right to tell him what he does not want to hear.

Second: Live in such a way that he wants what we have. If we claim to be sighted but stumble as much as he does, why would he want to be like us?

Third: Be present in his life when the burden of his blindness becomes so great that he is willing to consider our offer of sight.

Fourth: Lead him to the Great Physician. Help him confess his blindness to Jesus and ask for his forgiveness and grace. Then celebrate with our friend as his eyes are opened and his eternity is transformed.

There are only two kinds of people in the world

If you discovered the cure for cancer, you’d do what the Israeli scientists are doing: You’d announce it to the world, believing that everyone deserves what you have found. In fact, you have discovered a far greater cure, one that prevents eternal death and gives eternal life.

What will you do with what you have found?

Craig Denison: “God believes that you are worth the death of his Son, and there is nothing you can do to change his mind.” The same is true for every person you meet today.

There are only two kinds of people in the world: those who are spiritually blind, and those who can see and are therefore responsible to help those who cannot.

Which are you?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Denison Forum – The key to serenity in a chaotic culture

Did you hear about the Pennsylvania man who has a registered emotional support alligator?

Joie Henney says his pet, Wally, likes to give hugs. Henney told reporters that his doctor gave him approval to use the five-foot-long alligator for emotional support rather than go on medication for depression. He frequently takes Wally to senior centers and minor-league baseball games. “He’s just like a dog,” he told a woman recently. “He wants to be loved and petted.”

When I read about Wally, I thought of an Indonesian woman who was keeping Merry, a fourteen-foot crocodile, as a pet. Earlier this month, she was killed and partially eaten by the animal.

There’s an old story about a scorpion and a frog who met on the bank of a stream. The scorpion asked the frog to carry him across the water on its back.

The frog asked, “How do I know you won’t sting me?”

The scorpion said, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog was satisfied, and the two set out across the water. Midstream, the scorpion stung the frog.

As the frog started to sink, knowing they would both drown, it gasped, “Why?”

The scorpion replied: “It’s my nature.”

The danger of euphemisms Continue reading Denison Forum – The key to serenity in a chaotic culture

Denison Forum – How to respond when skeptics claim our faith is dangerous

Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Survivors marked the seventy-fourth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where more than a million people were killed. Six million Jews in total died in the Holocaust.

Closer to home, Dakota Theriot was captured yesterday afternoon at his grandmother’s home in Virginia. The twenty-one-year-old is believed to have killed his parents, his girlfriend, and her father and brother.

In other news, at least fifty-eight people are dead and at least three hundred are missing after a dam collapsed in Brazil on Friday. This morning’s Wall Street Journal reports that the rushing wall of mud was enough to fill a football stadium more than six times.

And ISIS has now claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Catholic cathedral in the Philippines during Sunday Mass. At least twenty people died in the double bomb attack.

Skeptics often ask what difference Christianity makes in a world like ours. If our God apparently cannot “fix” the world he made, how does faith in him change anything? Isn’t religion just the “opium of the people,” as Marx claimed?

In fact, isn’t religion not just irrelevant but dangerous to our progressive society?

Is religion dangerous?

When Christians like Karen Pence choose to follow biblical morality in ways the culture finds offensive, the outcry is deafening. Commentator Matt Walsh: “Gone are the days when leftists pretended to see religion as a thing that should be relegated to homes and churches and private schools. That very small amount of extremely limited and qualified ‘tolerance’ is gone. They will not tolerate Christianity in any forum, especially a private school” (his emphasis).

The “religion is dangerous” movement has been gathering momentum for several years. Critics such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris claim that religion is not just irrelevant and outdated but positively dangerous to society.

Religion flies planes into buildings and causes 9/11s, we’re told. It creates clergy abuse scandals and spends billions on buildings rather than people. It’s homophobic, racist, etc.

Of course, any group can be caricatured by blaming it for the sins of people who misrepresent and corrupt its teachings. Atheistic Communism has been responsible for 100 million deaths around the world. Are we to blame Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris for these atrocities?

When Christians were charged with cannibalism

We’ve been here before.

Early Christians were accused of being heretics since they would not worship the emperor and gods of Rome. They were charged with cannibalism for eating the “body and blood” of Jesus, with incest for loving each other as brothers and sisters, and with sorcery for performing miracles.

Apologists such as Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Tertullian responded by defending their faith rationally. But they emphasized as well the good lives and works of those they defended.

For instance, Athenagoras stated that Christians, though sometimes “unable to prove in words the benefits of our doctrine, by their deeds . . . exhibit the benefit arising from the possession of its truth.” Justin Martyr claimed that Christians are the empire’s “best allies in securing good order.” He noted that Christians pay taxes (Matthew 22:15-22) and submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-5) and even pray for the emperor as part of their worship (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Then as now, our lives are our best defense. The culture may condemn us for obeying Scripture regarding same-sex relations, for instance, but it takes note when we work to eradicate AIDS. Skeptics try to dismiss our faith as dangerous, but they must account for the fact that Christians have contributed more to education, healthcare, the welfare and protection of children, and care for the impoverished than any other group in history.

“The victory that overcomes the world”

The more broken our world, the more relevant our faith. When you and I find positive ways to make a practical difference in the lives we influence, we sow the seed of the gospel and plant trees we may never sit under.

All the while, we should remember that “this is the victory that overcomes the world–our faith” (1 John 5:4). Our eternal victory in Christ is certain.

Saturday morning, I watched the women’s finals of the Australian Open. It was a terrific match between Petra Kvitova and Naomi Osaka. The momentum shifted back and forth. The television cameras repeatedly showed Osaka’s family, coaches, and friends reacting to the stress of the competition.

I, however, watched the match in complete calm. That’s because I was 100 percent certain that Osaka would win. And that’s because the match was over before I watched it.

Since Sydney, Australia, is seventeen hours ahead of us in Dallas, the match began at 2:30 a.m. our time. ESPN tape-delayed its coverage to later that morning. But a news prompt on my cell phone told me the results of the tournament before the television coverage began.

As a result, I watched two players compete for a prize one of them had already won.

While it is true that “for [God’s] sake we are being killed all the day long” (Romans 8:36), it is also true that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v. 37).

Let’s claim–and share–our victory today, to the glory of God.

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Denison Forum – NY abortion ruling: How to move from success to significance

Let’s begin with this shocking headline: “America’s favorite Valentine’s Day candy is unavailable this year.” Necco, the original producer of Sweethearts candy, went out of business last July. The candy’s new owner promises to have the candy back on shelves next year.

I wish this were the only bad news in the news.

New York legislators approved a bill this week protecting abortion in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. There was loud cheering in the New York State Senate chamber when the bill passed.

The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, allows non-physicians such as licensed midwives, physician assistants, and licensed nurse practitioners to perform abortions. It expands late-term abortions and could compel doctors to perform abortions or risk losing their license to practice.

Meanwhile, details are emerging about Zephen Xaver, the man who allegedly killed five people inside a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, two days ago. His ex-girlfriend has told reporters that Xaver had an obsession with guns and death. “He was pretty open about the fact that he wanted everybody to die. All he talked about was killing people,” she said.

When you read stories like these, don’t you feel an urge to do something to help? Something to protect unborn children and victims of senseless crime? Something to make the world better than we found it?

“What counts in life”

Nelson Mandela: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – NY abortion ruling: How to move from success to significance

Denison Forum – Why is the media biased?

Savannah Guthrie, one of the anchors on NBC’s Today show, interviewed Covington student Nick Sandmann yesterday morning. I watched the interview, then watched the response. It was as though two completely different conversations took place.

Critics on the left lambasted the show for giving Sandmann a platform to tell his side of the story. Critics on the right castigated Guthrie for asking the young man if he felt he did anything wrong or owed anyone an apology.

Meanwhile, his Catholic school reopened later in the morning under extra security measures as the students face continued criticism and threats.

How the media covered the DC conflict

I described last weekend’s confrontation in Washington in yesterday’s Daily Article. One factor the conflict made clear is that media coverage of news events seems more biased than ever.

When video of the confrontation first emerged, it seemed to show white students wearing Make America Great Again hats instigating the clash. Liberal media outlets and celebrities were quick to brand Sandmann and his fellow students as racists.

When longer videos emerged that faulted others, conservative outlets and celebrities rose to the students’ defense and condemned liberal media for their earlier response.

Is this an isolated event, or is media bias real and growing?

Is media bias real?

Our ministry is nonpartisan and attempts to be as objective as possible. However, the facts indicate a clear bias in the media favoring liberal candidates and agendas. For instance:

Only 3 percent of major newspapers who endorsed a presidential candidate in 2016 endorsed Donald Trump.

A recent study found that over the last fourteen years, employees at Google gave 90 percent of their political donations to Democrats. Amazon, Apple, and Facebook employees gave to Democratic candidates at similar rates.

Social media companies use algorithms that seem clearly biased against conservative sources. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently admitted that conservative employees “don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company.”

Even financial journalists, long considered the most objective members of their profession, are more liberal than many thought. In a recent survey, only 4.4 percent said they were “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative.” By contrast, 58.47 percent said they were “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal,” while 37.12 percent claim to be “moderate.”

In other words, the ratio is one conservative to thirteen liberal/moderates.

One journalism expert has classified eight different types of media bias, with specific examples of each. According to a Wall Street Journal reporter, liberal media bias has been an issue in America for more than five decades. Of course, liberals consider conservative media to be biased against their agendas as well.

Unsurprisingly, Gallup has found that 62 percent of Americans believe news media to be biased. Today, 66 percent of Americans believe most news media do not do a good job separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42 percent held this view.

Why is the media biased?

Media bias is a large and complicated issue, but we can identify two trends that are relevant for Christians in our post-Christian culture.

One: Postmodern relativism claims that there is no objective truth, only “your” truth. In such a world, we interpret the news through the prism of personal security and fear. (A perceptive CNN article noted that “Our reptile brains were triggered by MAGA hat video.”)

Liberals fear that conservatives will force “their” morality on the culture. Conservatives fear that liberals will limit their freedom of speech, worship, and life. Thus, both are motivated to report and interpret stories that reinforce their bias.

Two: Information technology has remade the rules for the media business. Anyone can be in the media now (for instance, Apple says there are more than 550,000 active podcasts today). With so much content, platforms and consumers must segment what they report and we consume. We use technology to curate the news, limiting our feeds to the sources we want to hear or read.

Media outlets derive much of their income from advertisers. Advertisers know which market segments they want to capture. As a result, news outlets increasingly tailor their reporting to the biases and agendas of the markets their advertisers are paying them to reach. The result is the demise of objective reporting and the escalation of agenda-driven media.

Three steps to take now

The purpose of this Daily Article is not to condemn the media. Rather, it is to help us recognize media bias and understand the news effectively.

In today’s culture, discerning Christians can take three important steps.

One: Identify our beliefs and biases. They will influence our decision to consume or reject reporting and social media. We want to be sure we are seeking truth rather than reinforcing our opinions.

Two: Read across the spectrum and especially for viewpoints that counter our own. As we have seen, no news or social media platform is neutral. We need to know the agendas that drive the various outlets (click here for a helpful guide).

Then we need to seek out a variety of positions and to consider viewpoints that contradict our own. For instance, I read the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times early each morning, then check reporting on particular stories from sources as varied as The Blaze and HuffPost.

Three: Pray for the wisdom to interpret the news and world biblically. Scripture promises: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

Our goal should be to imitate our Lord, about whom even his enemies testified: “We know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances” (Matthew 22:16).

The tribe of Issachar included “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Will you join them today?

 

http://www.denisonforum.org/

Denison Forum – The ‘racist’ confrontation in DC: 3 biblical responses

Nathan Phillips is a Native American who attended the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington last Friday. He told the Washington Post that he was there to beat his drum while urging participants to “be strong” against colonialism.

According to Phillips, a throng of young, mostly white teenage boys, several wearing “Make America Great Again” caps, swarmed around him and began to chant, “Build that wall, build that wall.” One of them “blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat,” Phillips said.

He told the Detroit Free Press a different story. This time, he said that the students became upset by a group of Black Israelites. “They were in the process of attacking these four black individuals,” he said. So, “I put myself between beast and prey. These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey.”

Phillips stated that the students had a “mob mentality” that was “ugly, what these kids were involved in. It was racism. It was hatred. It was scary.”

Video of the event went viral. News outlets around the country condemned the students. One image of a student with a Make America Great Again cap smiling at Phillips became an icon for the event. Filmmaker Michael Green tweeted: “A face like that never changes. This image will define his life. No one need ever forgive him.”

Now we know the rest of the story.

“I am being called every name in the book”

Continue reading Denison Forum – The ‘racist’ confrontation in DC: 3 biblical responses

Denison Forum – What Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece says about abortion

Today is National Sanctity of Human Life Day in the United States. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating January 22 as the first such day. (January 22, 1973, was the day Roe v. Wade legalized abortion-on-demand in all fifty states.)

Since that time, Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump have issued similar declarations. Presidents Clinton and Obama did not.

Forty-six years after Roe v. Wade, we’re still debating abortion in this country.

Last Friday, the March for Life 2019, described as “the world’s largest pro-life event,” was held in Washington, DC. Vice President Pence and his wife made an appearance; President Trump spoke to the group via video.

The next day, the 2019 Women’s March gathered in our nation’s capital to advance several agendas, including the protection and expansion of abortion rights. The day after, thousands of churches across America observed Sanctity of Life Sunday. They prayed for an end to abortion, advocated adoption, and supported the sanctity of all human life.

Since 1973, nearly sixty-one million babies have been aborted in America, more than 54,000 so far this year.

Americans are confused about abortion

The logic against abortion seems simple. Ronald Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Pope Francis states the case succinctly: “The right to life is the first among human rights.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – What Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece says about abortion

Denison Forum – Martin Luther King Jr.: How to leave a legacy that matters

After 256 regular-season games and ten playoff games, we now know that the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots will play in Super Bowl LIII on February 3. This will be the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl appearance in the last eight years and third straight.

We also know that the game, as important as it is for the two teams, their cities, and football fans around the country, will change little about the world.

Meanwhile, North and South America witnessed last night the last total lunar eclipse of the decade. It was called a “super blood wolf moon” because the moon appeared slightly larger than normal (“super”), it was a full eclipse (thus traditionally called a “blood” moon), and it was in January (thus called a “wolf” moon in Native American and early Colonial times).

But like the Super Bowl, this interesting event will leave no lasting effects on the world.

How can you and I leave a legacy that matters?

For the answer, let’s turn to a man who was assassinated fifty years ago but “being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4 KJV).

Give everything to something

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. This annual observance is held on the third Monday in January, in proximity to Dr. King’s January 15 birthday. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making the day a federal holiday.

As a young man, Dr. King had many options. He was an outstanding student, skipping both the ninth and twelfth grades of high school and entering college at the age of fifteen. He became a pastor at the age of twenty-five and completed his PhD at Boston University the next year.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Martin Luther King Jr.: How to leave a legacy that matters

Denison Forum – CNN writer calls biblical morality ‘disgusting’

Karen Pence taught art at Immanuel Christian School in Virginia for twelve years while her husband served as a congressman. Her office announced Tuesday that she “missed teaching art” and will be returning to her part-time position.

Here’s the problem: this Christian school teaches and operates by a Christian code of conduct.

Immanuel requires parents to agree that they and their children will not act in opposition to “the biblical lifestyle the school teaches.” Examples include “participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity.”

The school’s employment application requires employees to affirm “that the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union.” It defines “moral misconduct” that would disqualify employees as “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, [and] any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.”

According to a CNN opinion writer, “This language is disgusting.” He’s not alone in his outrage, but his argument is so important and so popular that I’d like to explore it with you today.

The problem with acting on your faith

The writer claims that Immanuel’s stance “insults millions of taxpaying American citizens, many who have served their country. That it is acceptable to the wife of the man who is a heartbeat away from the presidency should horrify and alarm all Americans.”

Continue reading Denison Forum – CNN writer calls biblical morality ‘disgusting’