A.L.I.V.E.—The “E” Is For Engagement Of Christ’s Followers

Let’s get some insight into the Greco-Roman and Jewish mindsets of the first century AD. Specifically, the mindset of men. 

There is a well-known letter written June 17, 1 BC, from a man named Hilarion, who was gone off to Alexandria, to his wife Alis, whom he has left at home. He writes to her: “If—good luck to you—you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it out.” This letter captures the male-dominated mindset in the Roman world concerning women and children. In a word: inferior or even disposable. 

This mindset wasn’t limited to the world the Jews called “pagan,” but it was prevalent in Judaism too. Every day Jewish men began their morning prayer time with, “God, I thank You that You did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” 

With this background, it makes it startling that a Jewish man (who prayed that prayer thousands of times) writing to people in Rome (who undoubtedly had the same mindset as Hilarion), begins his list of thank you notes with gratitude to two women! Paul goes on to list no less than 8 women, even giving preferential treatment to a wife (Priscilla) over her husband (Aquila) when he mentions her name first! (see Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12).

William Barclay wrote, “Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.”

Indeed Christians changed the lives of at least four groups:

  1. Women (especially in the role of marriage)—divorce was so common that it was neither unusual nor particularly blameworthy for a woman to have a new husband every year. Yet Christians taught men to esteem their wives and for marriage to be honored by everyone (Ephesians 5:28; Hebrews 13:4). 
  2. Children—who weren’t even considered a part of the family until they had grown up and proven their worth to the father. Yet Christians taught fathers to nurture their children (Ephesians 6:4).
  3. Senior citizens—the pragmatic Romans had little to do with those they considered less valuable. But the first blind asylum was founded by Thalasius, a Christian monk; the first free medical dispensary was founded by Apollonius, a Christian merchant; the first hospital of which there is any record was founded by Fabiola, a Christian lady.
  4. The weak and sick—when a plague hit Rome, all the young, healthy people left the sick and elderly behind. They ran away, but the Christians stayed to help. The Christians taught that everyone (regardless of age, sex, or wealth) was valuable (1 Timothy 5:1-2). 

That was just the start of Christianity. Men like William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln were Christians who opposed slavery; Clara Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” and founded the Red Cross; Paul Brand was a doctor who ran to leprosy patients when everyone else shunned them; Mother Teresa loved those poor, dying souls whom others ignored. 

So what’s your conclusion? Throughout history Christians have been martyred for their faith, but not only are they willing to die for their belief that Jesus is alive, but they continue to do good to those who persecute them. Would people do this to perpetrate a hoax? Or does this sound more like the real deal?

Please check out the other evidence I have presented for the resurrection of Jesus:

Book Reviews From 2017

4 BIG Lessons From Esther

One of my favorite stories in the Bible shows God’s role in world events, and how the obedience of His people fits into God’s plan. Yet this story doesn’t even mention God by name!

It’s an important reminder that we don’t have to say, “God’s at work here” for God to be at work here. We don’t have to say, “I’m a Christian” to live in a Christlike way.

Have you ever read the story of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai? Let me tell you, this is a real page-turner of a story! If you already know the story, skip to the four lessons below. Here’s a quick recap (but you really should read this for yourself)…

  • King Xerxes is the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth
  • Queen Vashti (Xerxes’ wife) defies him and is deposed
  • When the king is looking for a new queen, a young lady named Hadassah catches his eye
  • Hadassah went by her Persian name of Esther, so the king didn’t know he married a Jewess
  • Mordecai was Esther’s cousin, her legal guardian, and a palace worker
  • Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate Xerxes, which he shared with Queen Esther, who told the king, who investigated and had the plotters killed
  • King Xerxes had a prime minister named Haman, who was really full of himself
  • Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman because Haman thought of himself as a deity
  • Haman wanted to show Mordecai, and all the other Jews like him, who was boss so he deceived King Xerxes into signing a law that would allow for all the Jews to be killed on a set date
  • Mordecai again told Queen Esther about the plot, but the queen was scared to go before the king unsummoned (where the penalty for doing so could be death)
  • Esther finally had the courage to approach Xerxes and invite him and Haman to dinner
  • At dinner, the king asked Esther why she really invited him to dinner, and Esther said, “Come back to dinner tomorrow night and I’ll tell you then”
  • King Xerxes couldn’t sleep that night so he asked for the royal chronicles to be read to him
  • The king discovered that Mordecai had never been rewarded for uncovering the assassination attempt
  • Xerxes asked Haman what he should do for a man he wanted to honor; Haman thought the king was talking about him, so he gave an elaborate plan of recognition, to which the king replied, “Excellent! Go do all that for Mordecai!”
  • Haman was so ticked off that he built a 75-foot tall gallows on which to hang Mordecai
  • At the second dinner, Esther asked for her life to be spared; the king wanted to know who would presume to attack her and the Jews, and she called out Haman
  • The king stormed from the room while Haman stayed to beg for his life
  • As the king returned, Haman was pawing at the queen in desperation, so the king’s bodyguards grabbed him
  • The king found out about the gallows built for Mordecai and gave orders for Haman to be hanged on those very same gallows
  • Mordecai became prime minister and wrote another law to help save the Jews from annihilation

4 BIG Lessons From Esther for Christians living in a pagan culture today

  1. All of History is His Story. God’s timing to bring all of the key players on the scene at just the right moment is obvious. Even giving the king insomnia at just the right time was a part of God’s plan!
  2. God gives us favor and we win favor by obeying God. The word “favor” is all throughout this story. God-fearing people are given God’s favor which leads to man’s favor as well.
  3. God-following people do make a positive impact on their culture. Esther becoming queen pleased the people, as did Mordecai’s just laws.  
  4. Pride humiliates and destroys; humility elevates the person and glorifies God. Just look at the contrast between Haman and Mordecai!

Do you have any other takeaways from this story? If so, please share them in the comments below.

10 More Quotes From “When A Nation Forgets God”

Erwin Lutzer shares valuable history lessons in his book When A Nation Forgets God. In this book, he reveals some scary parallels between Nazi Germany and the current trends in the United States. To help bolster his case, Dr. Lutzer shares many historical quotes. Here are a few of them.

“The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment—or as the Nazis like to say, ‘Of blood and soil.’ I’m absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other of Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.” —Victor Frankl, psychologist and Holocaust survivor

“It would be misleading to give the impression that the persecution of Protestants and Catholics by the Nazi state tore the German people asunder or even greatly aroused the vast majority of them. It did not. A people who had so lightly given up their political and cultural and economic freedoms were not, except for a relatively few, going to die or even risk imprisonment to preserve freedom of worship.” —William Shirer, in The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” —Benjamin Franklin

“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same words we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.” —Abraham Lincoln

“This generation is not accidental; each step logically follows from what has preceded: the loss of the Bible leads to the loss of God, for in the Bible God is most clearly revealed; the loss of God leaves man at the naked mercy of his fellows, where might makes right.” —John Warwick Montgomery

“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think!” —Adolf Hitler

“Create a critical mass of people who cannot discern meaning and truth from nonsense, and you will have a society ready to fall for the first charismatic leader to come along.” —Richard Terrell

“The desire to believe something is much more persuasive than rational argument.” —Winston Churchill

“The magnitude of a lie always contains a certain factor of credibility, since the great masses of the people in the very bottom of their hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil, and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one, since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of lies that were too big.” —Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf

“There is no problem in the wider culture that you cannot see in spades in the Christian Church. The rot is in us, and not simply out there. And Christians are making a great mistake by turning everything into culture wars. It’s a much deeper crisis.” —Os Guinness

You can read my review of When A Nation Forgets God by clicking here. And I also shared some quotes from Dr. Lutzer, which are posted here.

10 Quotes From “When A Nation Forgets God”

Dr. Erwin Lutzer discovers some scary parallels in the culture that gave rise to the Nazis and what is happening in America today. Please check out this book! You can read my review by clicking here.

“The role of the church [in Nazi-controlled Germany] was minimized by privatizing faith and instituting laws about what could or could not be said from a pulpit.”

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes that God must be separated not just from government, but from every sphere of American life. Religion—particularly Christianity—must be ousted from government, from law, education, and the workplace.

“Thus with the so-called public square free of any hint of religious values, the vacuum is then filled with secular values: the cheapness of human life (abortion and euthanasia), the promotion of all forms of immorality (including homosexual marriages), and the sexualization of schoolchildren (often with pornography and the ridicule of traditional values).”

“As Americans we must keep in mind that the First Amendment was not intended to mean that atheists and agnostics have veto power over all those who believe in God.”

“Of course the United States is not Germany, and, as we have observed, parallels between us and the Nazi era can easily be overdrawn. But there is this abiding lesson: satan was right when he said, ‘All that and man has he will give for his life’ (Job 2:4). Survival is a powerful drive within us all, and most of us are willing to compromise our values in order to live. And if the government can guarantee our financial future, we support that government even if we intuitively suspect we are being led down a dangerous path.” 

“Moral relativists who believe that laws are nothing more than the result of social conditioning, subject to the whim of leaders and nations, would have to agree with Goehring, Hitler’s designated successor, when at Nuremberg he insisted, ‘This court has no jurisdiction over me, I am German!’ By what laws then, should the Nazis be tried? And what would be the basis of such laws? At Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson, chief counsel of the United States, argued that there was ‘a law about the law’ that stood in judgment of all men in all countries and societies.”

“We are not required to win our political battles; we are expected to show our commitment even in the face of threats and sanctions. We must not permit the lawmakers or the courts of America to discourage us from doing what we must: representing Christ in our personal and corporate witness. As our freedoms are curtailed, our witness becomes more focused, more challenging. Let us be obedient to a higher law, the law as given us by the Supreme Court of the Universe.”

“When Hitler starved children, he called it putting them on a ‘low-calorie diet.’ And the extermination of Jews was called ‘cleansing the land.’ Euthanasia was referred to as ‘the best of modern therapy.’ Children were put to death in ‘Children’s Specialty Centers.’ … Sanitized terms were used to camouflage unspeakable crimes. Planned massacres were spoken of in clinical terms to mislead the naïve and to assuage the conscience of the perpetrators.”

“Important though the right leaders might be, we must always remember that God is neither Republican nor Democrat. When the Cross is wrapped in the flag of a political party, it is always distorted or diminished.”

“I believe that the spiritual climate of America will never be changed unless we have a revival of what we used to call ‘the laymen.’ That is, we need ordinary people living authentically for Christ in their vocations, among their neighbors, and in positions of influence.”

I will be sharing some more quotes from When A Nation Forgets God soon. Stay tuned, or better yet, subscribe to my blog so you will be notified as soon as these new quotes are posted.

When A Nation Forgets God (book review)

“Forces of secularism lead inevitably to a totalitarian state to which everyone is expected to submit.” These are the ominous words in the introduction to Erwin Lutzer’s book When A Nation Forgets God. In this book, Dr. Lutzer shares seven lessons that America must learn from Nazi Germany.

This is not a scaremongering book, but it is a thoughtful look at the steps Adolf Hitler and the Nazis took to seize control of Germany. Many of the parallels between what they did and what we can see happening in America are quite chilling. Dr. Lutzer warns about how separating God from the government, an over-reliance on the economy, confusing legal and moral terminology, and replacing the role of parents with state mandates all set up a dangerous slide toward a totalitarian state.

Eric Metaxas, who wrote about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s outspoken opposition to the Nazis right at the time they were coming to power, had this to say about Dr. Lutzer’s book—

“This great ‘experiment in freedom’ call the United States of America is not something that is self-sustaining. Freedom is not our natural condition. It is highly fragile and must be defended in every generation. So if we are unaware of what we have, we will not see it slipping away, as it is indeed doing at this time. That is precisely why Dr. Lutzer’s excellent book is so important. It clearly and powerfully explains what the parallels are between Germany’s fall from grace and the beginning of our own fall.”

Students of history, concerned citizens of the United States of America, and thoughtful Christians will all find When A Nation Forgets God a fascinating read.

I am a Moody Publishers’ book reviewer.

The Unusual History Of The King James Bible

on-this-day“How odd that the most famous Bible in history should bear the name of a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, ego-driven homosexual who rejected all demands for reform within the church.

“James VI of Scotland, son of imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots, was raised in drafty Scottish castles by self-serving lords. He grew up religious and well-trained in theology. He went to church every day. But he was rude, rough, loud, conceited, and bisexually immoral. He was also shrewd.

“At age 37 he managed to succeed his cousin, Elizabeth I, as England’s monarch. As he traveled from Scotland to London, he met a group of Puritans bearing a ‘Millenary Petition’ signed by nearly 1,000 pastors. It demanded renewal within the church. The Puritans, stirred by the Geneva translation of the Bible and by Foxe’s popular Book of Martyrs, wanted to purify the church. The established clergy opposed Puritan demands, and the new king realized his kingdom was torn.

He convened a conference for church leaders at his Hampton Court estate on January 12, 1604, and the Puritans vigorously presented their concerns. James rejected their requests, sometimes thundering against them, white with rage. At the conclusion of the conference he flung his arm toward the Puritans, shouting, ‘I shall make them conform or I will harry them out of this land, or do worse.’ Many of the dispirited Puritans, abandoning hope for the Anglican Church, began worshiping in small groups as they felt the Bible taught them. They were tagged Separatists, but from these persecuted cells came the Baptists in 1611, the Pilgrims who fled to America in 1620, and other dissenting groups.

“But on one issue at Hampton Court the king and Puritans had agreed. When Puritan John Rainolds requested a new translation of the Bible, James promptly approved it, saying, ‘I have never yet seen a Bible well-translated. But I think the Geneva is the worst.’ Seven years later the Authorized Version was unveiled, ironically making vice-prone King James one of the best-recognized names in English church history.” —Robert Morgan, On This Day

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